Movie Review: Mean Girls 2 (2011)

I don’t know why keep doing this to myself. On the way back from work I bought a copy of Rogue One. Instead I watched this.

Description (Amazon): The Plastics are back in the long awaited follow-up to the smash-hit Mean Girls… and now the clique is more fashionable, funny and ferocious than ever!

Main Character:

Jo Mitchell (whose last name I had to look up on Wikipedia) is not like other girls. No, you see, she helps her dad fix cars! She likes sports! She eats junk food! She literally says “I’m not like other girls” at one point. This is important, for some reason, because see, the popular girls are girly, and worry about their weight, and like clothes, but apparently that’s bad. This level of weird internalized sexism keeps getting brought up but never is really questioned, which makes me think that her having these interests is seen as a virtue.

She also has a dead mom, and really wants to go to Carnegie-Mellon, her mom’s alma mater, because her mom loved it there. I mean, I guess there are worse reasons to go to college, but when your college is over $50,000 a year maybe find a better reason.

She apparently wants to go to college to be an architect. The drawing on the left is her skyscraper design. Maybe find a new dream.

Who are we supposed to be attracted to?: 

Tyler Adams who, OK yeah he’s an attractive guy. But he’s such a nothing character and it’s almost absurd. He starts off the movie by being complicit in the weird sexism against Jo, but that goes nowhere and is never addressed again. He’s the stepbrother of Mandi, the villain of the movie, but aside from a very minor plot point that ends up being nothing. He’s just kind of there. I mean, granted this movie isn’t explicitly focused on romance in the same way The Wedding Planner or Beauty and the Briefcase were, but just everything with him goes nowhere.

The actor, Diego Boneta, seems to be the person who’s had the most success following Mean Girls 2. All I know him from is Rock of Ages, which is another movie that feels like it lasts ten hours.

Watching the Movie: There are a lot of problems with this movie, and I mean a lot, but the biggest issue is that there are a thousand plot elements and threads that go nowhere. The basic premise of the movie is that Jo is the new girl moving into town and oh no, her dad spent her college money on rent or something, the horror! So when she drives the school punching bag Abby home from school, Abby’s conveniently extremely wealthy father offers to pay for Jo’s college if Jo is Abby’s friend. Which is absurd in so many ways (who is wealthy enough to shrug off spending over $200,000 for one person to be his daughter’s friend?) but it’s workable.

But then there’s the element of the Plastics, the gang of mean girls (this is name dropped at least once in the movie), and then there’s the boyfriend, and then there’s a potential college scholarship, and then Abby’s dad won’t let her go to art school, etc. There’s just so much going on and none of it works. Three major plot points were resolved in the final narration by Abby, and things that should get a lot of time spent on them get barely any. Plot elements come and go in the matter of five minutes – if Jo wins a competition she’ll get an architecture scholarship, but Mandi rigs it so never mind! Jo’s convinced that her boyfriend Tyler recorded her personal thoughts on their date and share it with the entire school, but oh no that plot point is gone in about five minutes too. It’s bizarre how much happens in this movie, and how many plot points are shoved to the side or left unresolved because they need to fit in another plot point.

The film inexplicably starts in media res, as Abby’s dad offers to pay Jo for Jo to be Abby’s friend. So presumably that’s the major plot they want this movie to center around. But the movie at times seems to forget this is even happening, and when Abby finds out she forgives Jo at least 25 minutes before the end of the film so they can get back to the plot of taking down the titular mean girls.

One of the biggest issues is that it’s explicitly a Mean Girls sequel. This leads to some expectations, and it often feels like “well, everyone loved the Plastics in the first one, they have to be a big role here!” when it often just doesn’t work with the movie. The movie also really demonizes them, especially Mandi, and doesn’t even really have a similar message to the original. Whereas Mean Girls had a legitimately solid message about moving beyond attacking each other and beyond cliques, Mean Girls 2 seems to be cool with it, as long as there’s a mean enough target. It doesn’t feel true to the original movie in any way, which it kind of needs to given that only one character from the original is in Mean Girls 2.

It’s also just not funny. The original Mean Girls is so quotable for a reason – it’s genuinely funny. Tina Fey’s script is great, and it’s performed well. Mean Girls 2 only rarely feels like it’s even attempting to be a comedy, and it only tends to attempt the most banal humor centered around jokes about vomit and other bodily humor. There are occasional scenes that seem to be trying for some humor, but it mostly fails.

Problem Elements: This movie is weirdly sexist, which is kind of a bummer. It feels like it’s missed every single point of the original, too. It also veers uncomfortably into slut-shaming territory when the only joke about one of the characters is how promiscuous she is. Her name’s also Chastity. It’s not great at all.

How convoluted is the plot?: I mean, it could be worse? Honestly, Abby’s parents seem like the types who throw money at every problem, so throwing money at this doesn’t feel weird or out of place. The main issue is that there are enough plots for 5 movies in this one movie, so everything moves and changes so fast that it feels very convoluted. There’s also a lot of very heightened moments that feel like they should be coming from a place of comedy, but nothing’s funny.

Who deserves better? 

Tim Meadows is still inexplicably the principal in Mean Girls 2, the only actor to reprise his role. He’s not great in this, but by virtue of being in the original Mean Girls he definitely deserves better.

Jennifer Stone plays Abby, Jo’s friend whose dad is inexplicably paying a small fortune for a friend. She’s genuinely pretty solid, which, given the material, isn’t bad at all. Apparently she was one of the main stars of Wizards of Waverly Place, so I hope she escapes the Disney Channel star thing sometime.

Memorable Quotes: 

Abby needs you, we need you, and we’re willing to pay!” – because we’re in media res this is the only quote we hear twice. It’s not super memorable, but I find it interesting this was so vital we NEEDED to know it twice. 

“Mess with me, fine. Mess with my family, you’re dead” – At this point I hoped this would become John Wick: Teenager Edition, which I would have liked a lot more than Mean Girls 2.

Could it be Fixed? 

Oofa doofa. Not really. I think the world genuinely needs more movies about female friendship, and think there could be an OK movie about the whole “I’m going to pay you to befriend my daughter” thing. However, you’d need to cut a thousand plot points to make it work remotely well.
Is it fun to watch?: This movie is just over 90 minutes. It feels like 9 hours. It’s certainly bad but nowhere near fun to watch. If you want a good movie go watch the original Mean Girls. If you want a bad chick flick, just watch something else. Not this.

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