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Mean Girls Movie musical “Rapp”ed 

MOORHEAD — As an avid fan of the original Mean Girls Movie and the 2018 Broadway Musical Adaptation, I was excited, but also extremely nervous for the 2024 Mean Girls Movie-Musical.  

The 2024 Movie, starring Angourie Rice as Cady Heron, Renee Rapp as Regina George, and Auli’i Caravalho as Janis, was honestly a very big letdown for fans of the musical adaptation of the show.  

The most obvious change is of course, that it’s a movie musical. The advertising for this adaptation was spotty and didn’t accurately reflect that this was going to be a musical. Many on social media went to Instagram and TikTok to display this frustration.  

Though it was a musical, it didn’t do the 2018 Broadway musical justice. The most notable changes were the songs of the show itself. The 2024 movie cut a variety of songs that are important to the development of characters, added one new song for Cady (though this song replaced a different song that did the same thing), and changed tempos, keys and orchestrations.  

Cady was originally played by Lindsay Lohan in the 2004 movie and then by Erika Henningsen in the 2018 Broadway Musical. In the 2024 film, Cady was played by Angourie Rice. Rice, though she has a base as an actress, did not have the pipes to play Cady.  

Early in the 2024 film, Rice sings the song “What Ifs”, which showed a very limited vocal range. In the 2018 stage musical with Henningsen, Heron is a strong vocal part. With “It Roars” as the first song that features Henningsen in the musical, we see a flushed-out character that is like the 2004 performance by Lohan. Rice’s performance as Heron fell flat, feeling timid and shy, while Heron’s character in the 2004 and 2018 versions seem to be ready to learn new things and meet people in the other adaptations.  

(NOTE: “What Ifs” replaces “It Roars” in the 2024 film adaptation [SIDE NOTE: Booooo It Roars was better]). There was also such an odd angle of her?? In “Revenge Party”??? It was as if someone put a 0.5x camera right up to her forehead and just had her walking around. It was such an odd angle and I almost cried with laughter. Who did her dirty like that?  

The character of Damian Hubbard is also trimmed down from the 2018 staged version to the 2024 film. I don’t have a problem with Jaquel Spivey and his performance as Hubbard; however, I am angry with whoever cut out all his songs from the original musical adaptation. The 2018 musical adaptation had Hubbard singing “Where Do You Belong?”, “Stop”, and collaborated with Janis Sarkisian (Originally played by Barrett Wilbert Weed on Broadway) with “Revenge Party”. However, the musical cut “Where Do You Belong?” and “Stop”. Instead, they had the character of Hubbard collaborate with Sarkisian on “Apex Predator”. I wish they would have flushed out the character of Damian Hubbard. The character fell flat.  

There is so much I want to say about Auli’i Cravalho as Janis Sarkisian. In both the 2004 and 2018 versions of Mean Girls, Sarkisian is a very “edgy” character, where you can tell that the character is confident. Cravalho didn’t deliver the same edge that I was hoping. The original joke behind the 2004 Mean Girls Movie is that Regina George gets “Lesbian” and “Lebanese” confused with each other, and starts calling Sarkisian a lesbian, when it is revealed at the end that Sarkisian is Lebanese, and that George got the two words confused. The 2024 revival, however, leans into a queer Sarkisian. While I love the representation of queer characters in revivals of shows and content, I felt that this one wasn’t the best choice. The entire premise of the Mean Girls movie was that George got the two terms confused, and changing the sexuality of the character threw out the “lore” or Sarkisian and left the writers of the movie scrambling to give Sarkisian a new reason for hating George.  

Bebe Wood, who played Gretchen Weiners in the new film genuinely did a great job. I liked her portrayal of Weiners; however, I wish we had more of her. We were robbed a lot of the character development of both Gretchen and Karen Shetty (Originally ‘Karen Smith’ in the 2004 movie and 2018 musical) played by Avantika Vandanapu. I think Wood and Vandanapu were both such great choices for the plastics, but there was so much cut from the 2018 adaptation, where both characters fell short and felt underdeveloped.  

I love Vandanapu’s work in other movies (Such as ‘Senior Year’ (2022), and her portrayal of Shetty was a unique take, but kept the original feel of Karen Smith. I just wish we got more content of her as Shetty within the movie.  

Renee Rapp as Regina George, however, was perfect. Rapp was originally discovered during the Jimmy and Blumey Awards (High School Theatre Awards), where she won “Best Actress” at the Blumey’s and “Best Performance by an Actress” at the Jimmy’s for her performance as Sandra Bloom in “Big Fish the Musical”. Upon completing high school, Rapp joined the cast of Mean Girls on Broadway in 2019 as the replacement to Taylor Louderman and covered the role until the COVID-19 pandemic shut Broadway down. Since then, Rapp has been working on her music career and has made a name for herself in R&B and Alternative Pop. The idea of having Rapp revive her role was a great choice, and I enjoyed her performance.  

In the 2024 movie, there was a lot of product placement, especially for Elf Cosmetics. It felt slightly like a money grab and took away from the action in some of the scenes. That’s all I have on that point.  

There was also a lot of attempted at diversity and representation of people of color in this adaptation. However, it felt more like tokenism and not as if they tried to have representation. The 2024 adaptation had Wood, who is of Cuban descent, play Wieners. The movie, according to Wikipedia (reliable source, I know), had “a nod to her Cuban heritage” while she played Weiners, however, they only mentioned anything about her family or heritage only once within the movie. They had such a great opportunity to expand on both the roles of Shetty and Weiners, but instead, they decided to do the bare minimum, making it feel tokenistic.  

The costumes, however, were well done. They all felt like nods to the original movie. There were a few that I felt like we are going to look back at in a few years and be like “oh that was so 2023”, but otherwise, the costumes were very well done.  

Overall, was it my favorite movie? Definitely not. Would I watch it again? For Renee Rapp. Do I recommend people who want to get into musical theatre to watch it? Sure, but I’d have other recommendations first. I think that it could have been a lot better with the circumstances it had, however, I was decently surprised with the quality of the movie.  

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