Mean Girls (2024) Parent Guide
Two hours of bullying and social cruelty is a big price to pay for a few laughs and some solid messages about honesty and authenticity.
Parent Movie Review
Living in a tent on the grasslands of Kenya has not prepared Cady (Angourie Rice) for the ruthless ecosystem of an American high school. Her scientist mother ensured that she’s academically on target, but Cady is too naïve to decode the predatory hierarchy that dominates not only the school halls but also the world of social media.
Initially befriended by artsy outcasts Janis and Damian (Auli’I Cravalho and Jaquel Spivey), Cady soon falls into the orbit of “The Plastics”. The trio of girls is led by the hard-faced queen bee Regina (Reneé Rapp), who is slavishly followed by her acolytes, dim-witted Karen (Avantika) and insecure Gretchen (Bebe Wood). Intrigued by Cady but determined to keep her in her place, Regina befriends and then betrays her, leaving Cady angry enough to participate in a revenge plot masterminded by Janis and Damian.
It turns out that Cady has a talent for intrigue and it looks like the social tables are about to turn. But can Cady pretend to be a “plastic” without becoming “shiny, fake, and hard”?
This musical movie version of Mean Girls is an adaptation of the Broadway show, which was in turn inspired by the 2004 film of the same name. I will admit to not having seen any of the prior versions, which makes it easy to judge this production on its merits. And my verdict is – it’s not terrible. It’s not wonderful either, but it falls squarely in the middle of the world of teen cinema. The story is overlong and highly predictable, and there are too many musical numbers (although some of them are memorable), but the show manages to deliver solid messages about integrity, authenticity, loyalty, friendship, forgiveness, and honest self-assessment. The writers are gentle with the characters, and even those who make egregiously bad choices are given the chance to evaluate themselves, change their behavior, and improve.
Unsurprisingly, a movie that confronts the ugliness of high school popularity wars contains some negative content. There’s not much profanity, although one song features numerous sexual hand gestures. There are repeated scenes of underage drinking, and some farcical violence. The show also has plenty of sexual content, including visible cleavage, passionate kissing, and innuendo, but the biggest problem is the constant pressure, both external and internal, for girls to be “sexy”. Like screenwriter Tina Fey’s Moxie, this film unsparingly examines the painful challenges facing teenage girls, from sexualization and objectification to the real-life horrors perpetuated by the 24/7 gaze of social media. High school has always been tough, but the online world has made adolescence performative, and Cady learns that what the virtual world builds up, it can also destroy.
Mean Girls isn’t for everyone: it’s too predictable for most adults, unless they have fond memories of the original film. Frankly, going through high school was bad enough in real life; why would I want to relive the worst of it at an elevated level of cruelty and intensity? All the high energy singing and dancing isn’t enough to make this feel fun.Directed by Samantha Jayne, Arturo Perez Jr.. Starring Angourie Rice, Reneé Rapp, Auli'i Cravalho. Running time: 112 minutes. Theatrical release January 12, 2024. Updated January 11, 2024
Watch the trailer for Mean Girls (2024)
Mean Girls (2024)
Rating & Content Info
Why is Mean Girls (2024) rated PG-13? Mean Girls (2024) is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sexual material, strong language, and teen drinking
Violence: A main character is hit by a bus and suffers serious injuries. Students brawl in a school hallway. There is mention of prior bullying of a girl for her sexual orientation. A person recalls setting a toy on fire in revenge for bullying. Characters sing about throwing a person’s body in the river. A main character keeps a book where she writes cruel things about her classmates.
Sexual Content: There are several scenes of teen boys and girls kissing, sometimes passionately. Adolescents are seen making out; the guy is shirtless. Teen girls frequently wear very low cut outfits, exposing extensive cleavage. A guy dances suggestively and sings lyrics full of sexual innuendo. Scantily dressed teen girls dance suggestively. An excited teen rips his shirt off. There is mention of past homophobic bullying. There’s brief detailed discussion about the use of feminine hygiene products.
Profanity: A person repeatedly uses a sexual hand gesture as part of a song and dance number. The script contains nine terms of deity, a couple of scatological curses and minor profanities, and several crude anatomical terms. A rude slang term for woman is used on several occasions.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Teenagers are seen drinking alcohol at a party and a main character gets tipsy. A presumably intoxicated teen vomits. A main character uses properly prescribed pain medication but is shown to be impaired as a result. A teacher is falsely accused of pushing drugs.
Page last updated January 11, 2024
Mean Girls (2024) Parents' Guide
Do all of the main characters learn something about themselves? What do you think they learn? How does it affect their behavior?
What messages does this movie provide about how teenage girls are sexualized in society and online? How do those expectations affect the way the girls in this movie behave at school? Do they present themselves inauthentically because of it? What are the consequences of “living a lie”?
Related home video titles:
The sexualization of teenage girls is a primary theme in Moxie, which tells the story of a girl who launches a homemade magazine to fight against the misogyny that permeates her high school.
After her popularity takes a hit, Padgett decides to regain her position atop the high school hierarchy by transforming a “loser” into the prom king. This tale of deceit, friendship, and romance is told in He’s All That.
High school bullying plumbs new depths in Butter when an overweight student reaches such a state of despair that he decides to eat himself to death online.