Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Mean Girls

Posted by julian On 5:32 AM
Next Wednesday night is the Season 1 Finale of 'Best Shot". Together we'll look at the 1955 classic Night of the Hunter which --- well, if you've never seen it, you're in for a major film event. It's appropriately creepy for late October, too. Today, something lighter and flirtier.

MEAN GIRLS (2004)

God, she can be SO annoying.

Few movies from the Aughts have proved as delightfully durable as Mean Girls, the Tina Fey scripted Mark Waters directed comedy that introduced us to Queen Bee Regina George (a total "rock star" performance from Rachel McAdams) and her army of skanks, Gretchen (Lacey Chabert), Karen (Amanda Seyfried) and new girl Cady (Lindsay Lohan) -- "I love her. She's like a Martian" -- transferred in from Africa and experiencing the jungles of public education for the first time. On first viewing back in 2004, its debt to Heathers (1988), another comedy about evil life-ruiner hotties, seemed insurmountable in terms of New Classic! reaction. But Mean Girls has, in the past six years, more than proved its own worth and its own identity. In retrospect the two films feel very different in tone and aesthetic personality, with only the subject matter, mean girls, and über quotability to unite them.  In future years, the next great mean girl classic will be compared unfavorably to both of them.

The best filmmaking choice in the movie, aside from the inspired casting, might be the staging of every character intros. The entire principle cast gets fun intros with the best being reserved for the Queen Bee herself who is literally carried into the picture in slo-motion by her male admirers while a Greek chorus of students fills us in on who she is and why we should be in awe of her. It kicks off with the double conscience of the film Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese)
"And evil takes a human form in Regina George. Don't be fooled. She may seem like your typical selfish back-stabbing slut-faced ho-bag but in reality she is so much more than that. She's the Queen Bee. The star. Those other two are just her little workers... "
. To underline her power, Missy Elliott is on the soundtrack also introducing her...

 "hey hey hey  I'm what's happening."

And Rachel McAdams is indeed what's happening in Mean Girls (especially now that we've had to let our love for LiLo's brief sparkliness go).  Every time you watch it, her performance gets better. A lot of actresses can and have done deliciously bitchy but her deliciously bitchy has so many shadings from stickily sweet (is she for real? why do i want to believe this one moment) to casual bored privilege to tossed off power plays to embarrassment at any hint of runner up status to machiavellian rage spiked with tiny flashes of self-loathing (that Burn Book sabotage moment!). She's damn near unimproveable in the picture.

For best shot, I choose a two-part Regina moment...



I love how the camera tracks Regina through the hallway after she's hatched her brilliant revenge plan. She's regained control of her screaming rage we saw in the prior scene and she's just gliding through the hallways, with a neat hint of actressy athleticism. Gone is the sex kitten and in her place is the marathon runner.

The shot functions like a reverse Hansel & Gretel; the witch is leaving a bread crumb trail. In the bookend shot that follows (also pictured) the camera is still moving but the witch isn't. Witness her hungry self-satisfaction while she watches the children gobble up the crumbs. They're already baking in her oven!

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Finally, I have to end with a gymnasium moment because Amanda Seyfried just slays me as Karen Smith "one of the dumbest girls you'll ever meet".



This scene where Gretchen "apologizes" to her classmates -- 'I can't help it that I'm popular' -- always makes me cackle. Particularly because the punchline is so funny. Karen is watching Gretchen blankfaced and just opens up her arms to receive her friend while everyone else steps away. The funny thing about Karen is actually how innocent she seems, like a mean girl by accident of proximity and stupidity.


The "Best Shot" clique is so fetch
 Previously on "Hit Me With Your Best Shot"

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