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  • The Phoenix would like to thank the Assistance League of Los Altos for their valuable donation to keep our newspaper running. With their assistance, we will be able to print quality issues that reflect the interests of Fremont High School and the wider community.
The Student News Site of Fremont High School

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Musical controversy

Graphic+by+Shraddha+Sriram+and+Beatrice+Levine
Graphic by Shraddha Sriram and Beatrice Levine

The controversial musical movie adaptation of the iconic “Mean Girls” Broadway show was released on Jan. 12, 2024. Tina Fey, the co-writer of the 2004 “Mean Girls” and of the Broadway show, wrote the film and acted as Ms. Norbury in both the recent and 2004 films. Another actor featured in both films is Tim Meadows, the principal of North Shore High School. The movie features many other iconic actors and actresses such as Reneé Rapp as Regina George, a main character, who also played Regina on Broadway. Lindsay Lohan, the actress for the 2004 Cady Heron, made a cameo appearance as the moderator of the Mathletes competition near the end of the movie. Other trending actors such as Christopher Briney who played Conrad in “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and Ashley Park who played Mindy Chen in “Emily in Paris” and Gretchen in “Mean Girls” on Broadway were featured.

The controversy of the new “Mean Girls” begins with the advertising. Advertising for the movie included no mention that it would be a musical. This strategy was also used to market “Wonka,” another recently released musical film. This lack of transparency in marketing can cause disappointment in those who go to see these movies expecting a regular movie and are instead met with singing and dancing.

“There is a large audience that would be willing and wanting to come to watch musicals, but since they don’t appeal to that audience, they’re going to end up making more people annoyed than happy,” FHS senior Sophia Baynes said. “If they just outright said, ‘This was the musical’, they wouldn’t be getting that backlash.”

With the large backlash and expressions of disappointment from 2004 “Mean Girls” fans on social media, the usefulness of this marketing tactic becomes unclear. FHS senior Skylar Sardella comments that though the movie may have had an increase in ticket sales, the cast caused a lot of bad press for themselves. 

“I would see people on Tik Tok complaining about [‘Mean Girls’] and being like, ‘Oh my God, why are they singing and dancing?’” Sardella said. “Which is a fair reaction to have if you walk in there not knowing that that’s it.”

Regardless of the marketing fiasco, the quality of the casting and songs of “Mean Girls” is questionable. When casting musicals, it is important to cast actors with a musical background, not just regular movie actors. Many songs in musicals have a ton of emotion behind them, and regardless of how good of a singer an actor is, if they cannot convey this emotion, the quality of the musical decreases.

“‘Stupid with Love’ in the original [Broadway] musical, there’s so much emotion behind it because yeah, she’s really, really in love with this guy,” Sardella said. “And then I saw someone on Tik Tok like with the newest version of the movie [‘Mean Girls’], compare it to if Cady Heron had a lobotomy, and I feel like that’s pretty accurate.”

Christopher Briney who plays Aaron Samuels, Cady Heron’s love interest, did not sing in “Mean Girls.” Whether this was an executive choice or Briney’s himself, Sardella comments that his songs that were cut from the original Broadway musical are one reason why “Mean Girls” fell short compared to the Broadway version. However, it is important to mention that transforming a musical into a film form can be difficult in terms of flow and plotline. Some songs may have been cut from the movie to improve the flow of the story and avoid the “music videos with some dialogue in between” feel that some musicals have. 

Despite all the downgrades in select songs from the Broadway musical, some scenes were done very well. There was impressive cinematography and choreography in certain scenes. Rapp’s acting was especially phenomenal, which is expected since she played Regina on Broadway as well. Another area that the movie excelled in is representation. With a more diverse cast, the movie no longer appeals to the toxic discriminatory standards of 2000s media. 

Though the 2024 “Mean Girls” does not compare to the incredible Broadway musical and could never be as iconic as the 2004 “Mean Girls,” it is a fun watch. The musical aspect of the movie makes it more satirical as it seems to take itself less seriously. For people who enjoyed the original “Mean Girls” many years ago, the new one is a fun modernized refresher of the original and a worthwhile watch.

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About the Contributor
Clara Estan, A&E Editor
Clara Estan is a sophomore and an editor for Arts and Entertainment on the Phoenix. In her free time, she enjoys running, traveling, listening to music and exploring new hobbies. She is also part of FHS's Cross Country team and Mock Trial club!

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