On Friday, January 12, Mean Girls (2024) was released in movie theaters across the U.S. This beloved story began as the book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. Tina Fey then adapted the writing into the 2004 movie before the story finally evolved into a Broadway musical in 2017. The 2024 movie is a film adaptation of the musical, although it pays homage to earlier installments in the Mean Girls franchise.

Mean Girls follows Cady Heron (Angourie Rice), who has recently moved from Kenya to attend an American high school for the first time. There, she encounters the “Plastics” (Reneé Rapp, Bebe Wood, and Avantika Vandanapu), the popular clique at her new school. With the encouragement of Janis Ian (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damien Hubbard (Jaquel Spivey), Cady pretends to be friends with the Plastics in order to take down their pretentious group.

Amongst the all-star cast, several actors reprised their roles: Reneé Rapp played Regina George in the Broadway musical and Tina Fey and Tim Meadows reappeared as Ms. Norbury and Mr. Duval from the 2004 movie. Additionally, Lindsey Lohan, who starred as Cady in the 2004 movie, and Ashley Park, who was in the 2017 musical, had cameos in the film.

A highlight of Mean Girls (2024) was the inclusion of some excellent vocalists. Auli’i Cravalho, who starred in Disney’s Moana, and Reneé Rapp, a successful musician and Broadway performer, stunned audiences with their impressive voices, enhancing their already suburb portrayals of their respective characters. The movie also included some minor updates to the original plot, creating more queer representation and diversifying the cast overall. Despite this, the film also had plenty of callbacks to the 2004 version, repeating popular lines and even recreating iconic outfits. Overall, the movie successfully maintained the essence of Mean Girls, while giving it a modern spin.

That being said, there were some major issues with the new Mean Girls. In contrast with her talented colleagues, Angourie Rice missed the mark on vocals. Her opening solo of the musical, “It Roars” was changed in the movie to better suit her underwhelming vocal abilities. This made for a disappointing start to the film and led some viewers to criticize Rice’s casting in the movie. Especially when placed next to the stronger vocalists in the film, Angourie Rice stood out like a sore thumb. Furthermore, in an effort to modernize Mean Girls, the 2024 film incorporated social media into the story by including cameos from real-life influencers and referencing various platforms in the dialogue. Unfortunately, this was poorly executed and often felt cringe-worthy because of how overdone the representation of social media was. Lastly, the movie rushed through many of the plot points, making the film difficult to follow and erasing some of the charm that made the original Mean Girls so special.

Mean Girls (2024), although enjoyable for fans of the franchise, may fall flat for viewers who are unfamiliar with earlier versions of the story. However, while some of the shortcomings of the movie are not easily overlooked, there are still entertaining and engaging moments throughout. Even though the film might not live up to the success of its predecessors, Mean Girls (2024) is a positive addition to the Mean Girls family, and hopefully not the last.