Published Apr 01, 2004Cady Heron has never set foot inside a classroom. Up until now she was home-schooled by her trusting zoologist parents in the wilds of Africa her friends were the animals; her teacher was the entire biosphere. So when her mom and dad call it quits and pack her into an American high school, she is wholly naïve, a pretty, sweet, fresh fruit ripe for the tainting.
Initially befriended by the "freaks" the "almost too gay to function" Damian and the brooding, revengeful Janis Cady is contented. That is, until she meets the "Plastics" the three most popular, beautiful girls in school, a triumvirate of Heathers-style powerhouses who rule the place with an iron fist disguised by shiny pink polish. Regina George is the flawless leader. Like the archetypal Heather Chandler, everyone wants her, either as a friend or as a fuck. Behind her flowing golden mane trot the vapid Karen and the perma-worried Gretchen.
Soon enough, Cady's intriguing natural good looks and blank canvas appeal land her a spot at the Plastics' lunch table and the game begins. Cady's previously developed friendship with Janis, who holds a grade-school grudge against the head plastic, combined with Cady's crush on Regina's ex, sparks a sympathetically malicious plan: ruin Regina's life, because you know, she deserves it. The plan aims to systematically erase each of the three elements of Regina's popularity. But as each line is scratched out, Cady's fake friendship with the trio becomes real, until she is finally roped into a thickly catty drama with no tools for survival. The climax comes with a Harriet the Spy-style expose that leaves the new girl with a heap of enemies and a chance to touchingly mend her relationships.
The plot is obviously unoriginal and the main characters are clearly predictable. But somehow that doesn't matter. The supporting cast hilarious teachers Tina Fey (who makes her screenplay writing debut here) and Tim Meadows provides incremental relief from the superficial teen world and jokes play out as they should, as influenced by SNL sketches.
The jokes even manage to mock traditional teen movie laughs without being obvious, while maintaining a sense of humour that real teen-movie fans should find genuinely funny. Even if the gay jokes are horrendously lame. (Paramount)