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In pop culture, YADA-YADA usually means "blah, blah, blah" or "more of the same." For this blog, YADA-YADA is an acronym meaning "Young Adult Discussions About Young Adult-Designed Art." Check out my summaries and reviews of teen media. Chime in and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Blog No. 39--Mean Girls (DVD) Tina Fey and Mark Waters

GENRE: Comedy [DVD]

Title: Mean Girls
Director: Mark Waters
Screenplay: Tina Fey, Rosalind Wiseman
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Jonathan Bennett, Rachel McAdams, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows

Bibliographic Information:
Viewing Level: Young Adult, 13 and up
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Paramount Pictures
DVD Release Date: September 21, 2004
Run Time: 97 minutes


Reader’s Annotation:
After being homeschooled in Africa most of her life, Cady arrives at her new high school—the first time she has ever been in a real public school—and isn’t sure she likes it. When she is convinced by her new geeky friends to befriend the “Plastics” (the pretty girls who seem like they have nothing going on upstairs), she gets sucked into their plastic ways—and likes it.

Plot Summary:
Cady Heron, homeschooled her entire life in Africa by her anthropologist parents, is going to public school for the first time. For sixteen years she has lived and studied “in the bush” and now has to face the realities of life as an American teenager, with all of its zits and thorns. The first two friends she makes are Janis Ian and Damien—who are basically outcasts in the eyes of most of the popular kids at school. These two know the score, though, and begin filling Cady in on all that she needs to know. It is from them that she learns about the Plastics—a group of three girls named Rachel, Gretchen and Karen (Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert and Amanda Seyfried)—who basically run the social order of the school. Janis Ian hates Regina most of all—they were once best friends in the eighth grade—and Janis was victimized by Regina’s wrath. Janis wants revenge, and comes up with an interesting and spectacular idea.

Janis with Damien’s help convinces Cady to become an interloper between the groups, pretending that she wants to be one of the Plastics. Janis makes Cady over into one, complete with hair, the walk, the talk and the clothes. However, the plan backfires when Cady decides she actually likes the Plastics, and sees the importance of their stance at school. This infuriates both Janis and Damien, and war begins. Things get even more complicated when Cady falls for Regina’s boyfriend Aaron, leaving Cady not knowing who her friends are, and where she fits in.

Critical Evaluation:
At first, I thought I would hate this movie, until I saw that it was written by the talented Tina Fey of Saturday Night Live fame. Fey also plays a teacher in the movie, and her SNL compatriots--Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, and Amy Pohler, also play parts in the film.

Lindsay Lohan portrays a very likeable Cady, making it easy for us to root for her, and to understand why she would want to go along with Janis Ian’s plan of revenge against the Plastics. This is a very funny movie for teens and adults alike, as it demonstrates the challenges all of us have to go through (or have been through) in high school. A well written script, filled with irony and double entendre, makes this a great film for everyone. The movie also shows an up-and- coming Rachel McAdams in a vixen role, and demonstrates the early talents of Mamma Mia’s Amanda Seyfried. The film imparts fun and a message, which is probably why my own teenage daughter said “Mom, you have to see this movie.” She was right.

Reading level/Interest Age:
Recommended for Age 13 and up, due to the PG-13 nature of the film. As I recall, however, my own daughter first saw it at a slumber party when she was ten. It was definitely written for the teen film crowd, but viewers slightly younger and older will enjoy it as well.

Information about the Author:
Although American films are usually credited to the director (a disgusting move since the arrival of the director-as-auteur movement from France), I am crediting Tina Fey, the screenwriter, who used a lot of her own high school life experiences as inspiration for this film. Tina Fey was born Elizabeth Stamatina Fey on May 18, 1970 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. She attended the University of Virginia, where she received a BA in Drama in 1992. From there, she went to Chicago to study acting with the Second City troupe and performed eight shows a week for two years. While she acted and learned her craft as an improvisationist, she wrote and submitted several scripts to Saturday Night Live, and eventually was hired by Lorne Michaels as a writer.

One year later, she did a sketch as an actor. When she saw herself, she decided to lose thirty pounds. After dropping the weight (which she said was a normal weight for anyone outside of New York City) she was cast in more sketches. Eventually she became a hit, and went on to become the first female head writer in SNL history.

Mean Girls was her first movie role.

Curriculum Ties:

Challenge Issues:

Why I Included This DVD:
It is one of my teenage daughter’s favorite movies, and she told me that I HAD to include it. ‘Nuff said.

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