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Mean Girls

Year: 2004
Studio: Paramount
Director: Mark Waters
Producer: Lorne Michaels
Writer: Tina Fey
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, Tina Fey, Amy Poelher, Lizzy Caplan, Jonathan Bennett

Though I'd always been aware of this movie's success and impact, I didn't even get around to watching it until close to ten years after it was originally released.

Even before that, something I could never work out was why it was so popular. I knew enough about the plot know it was the story of a young girl, Cady (Lohan) who came to the very new environment of high school after being home schooled most of her life and has to learn to fit in.

But it looked like the same tired high school comedy that had been around since it was nearly a genre of its own on video during the 80s, cracking wise on the identifiable cliques and their strict hierarchy of internal rules and interaction. Hadn't we seen representations of this kind of thing everywhere from The Breakfast Club to Clueless?

More notable than the staggering (undeserved?) success though is the career-launching powers the film had for almost everyone involved apart from the director. Lohan, McAdams, Seyfried and co-star/writer Fey all became stars, even though what they did with their stardom couldn't be more different.

Cady befriends the misfits who warn her about the plastics – the cool girls at the top of the tree – while encouraging her to infiltrate their ranks to wage war.

But in a cinematic character arc that could be called the Reverse Avatar, she finds herself one of them, taking on their worst qualities as she tries to undermine them and finding herself with no real friends at all.

It's a simple throughline but the execution is very cluttered, culminating in an episode involving a book the girls have been keeping about everyone they hate. Some funny lines stand out but despite the movie being about the dangers of archetypes, everyone and everything in it seems to be one.

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