‘Mean Girls’ remake gets a modern makeover

Margaret Contreras
Staff Writer 

The remake of the movie “Mean Girls,” the film based on the Broadway musical, opened in theaters last month. 

The new film, born of the original 2004 Tina Fey film-turned-Broadway hit in 2017, has been updated, including song lyrics reflective of today’s body positivity norms, a more diverse cast, and the ubiquitousness of social media in teens’ lives. 

The film got mixed reviews from media outlets and students. Some thought there was no need to remake it. Others did not feel like the 2004 film was relevant.

“For remakes, I am in the middle,” Vanessa Maldonado, sophomore criminology major, said. “Janis was not put in a good light in the original movie. The remake puts her in a better light.” 

Janis, played by Chloe Auliʻi Cravalho, is the queer friend of Cady, played by Angourie Rice. In the 2004 movie, she was not confirmed queer. 

Janis’ character development in the 2024 adaptation was clearer to the audience. She was confirmed queer, it can be seen in the way she acted and held herself. She is seen trying to flirt with a female classmate, then later taking her to prom. 

A change they made from the classic film was that previous characters who were not confirmed to be part of the LGBTQ+ community are now confirmed in the 2024 movie.

The original 2004 movie had only one character confirmed as part of the LGBTQ+ community named Damian, played by Daniel Franzese. The character made a return in the 2024 film, this time played by Jaquel Spivey.  

“There are gaps where people feel alienated,” said Judy Holiday, associate professor and chairperson of rhetoric and communication studies. “It’s time to see other people represented. Being part of the queer community, seeing oneself on the screen… my life would have been less (shameful).” 

In the 2024 film the characters’ dialogue and wardrobe changed to adapt to modern times. 

In the 2004 film, Regina George, the antagonist of the story, wore skirts and dresses, all primarily in bubblegum pink. But in the 2024 film, she wore pants, leather and other colors outside of pink, reflecting that girls do not have to dress in a stereotypical feminine fashion in order to appear feminine. 

Freshman psychology major Verena Phan said the wardrobe change was represented well. 

“Janis was more expressive in her clothing and her statements,” she said. “There is a major shift in clothing choices.” 

Janis wore more colorful clothing showing her artistic side. There was a jacket she wore that was made with colorful yarn and looked vintage, reflecting her use of yarn in her artwork. 

Another significant change from the Broadway show to the 2024 film was removing a lyric in the song that speaks towards body shaming. The change comes from casting Reneé Rapp, who plays George. 

In a 2023 interview Rapp did for The Guardian, she said she struggled with an eating disorder. Rapp has a curvier body type than the original actress cast from the 2004 film, Rachel McAdams, and the first Broadway musical actress, Taylor Louderman, which prompted the lyric change

The original lyric from the Broadway show that George sang was “I never weigh more than 115,” but was rewritten for the 2024 movie as “that filter you use looks just like me.” 

The lyric change also reflected how social media platforms are used in the everyday lives of students in the film to further modernize the story. The movie also ties into the cyberbullying that rises from social media.  

“To see how someone deals with that… it’s a good thing to be aware of it.”  Holiday said.

There is also more representation of different ethnicities throughout the movie. The cast is not a majority of Caucasian, but includes multiple ethnicities. Spivey is a Black actor, and Avantika Vandanapu, who plays Karen, is Indian. 

Karen also underwent a name change in the remake to reflect Vandanapu’s heritage, from Karen Smith to Karen Shetty. 

Cravalho is of Hawaiian origin, a change from the original 2004 film, which had a Caucasian actress, Lizzy Caplan. The character Janis underwent a name change to reflect the new casting, from Janis Ian to Janis ‘Imi’ike. 

“I thought that it was great that they added more diversity and more equality,” Katarina Suchoza, AMC Theaters’ staff member, said. 

Margaret Contreras can be reached at margaret.contreras@laverne.edu

Magaret Contreras is a sophomore communications major with a concentration in public relations. She is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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