Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of Mean Girls

This week, I decided to go in a completely different direction and review a genre that may come as a surprise: the chick flick.  Mean Girls, is based on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman.  Written by Tina Fey, Mean Girls is a smart, sophisticated take on cliques and how to survive high school.  It features a cast of young, talented actresses and is, in my opinion, one of the smartest adaptations of the high school comedy genre.

Cady Herron (Lindsay Lohan) has never been to a regular school until the 11th grade.  She begins her first day at North-Shore High unsure if she’ll be able to navigate her way through the school and survive the taunts of her classmates.  On her second day, she meets Janice (Lizzy Kaplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese), who give her the 411 on the school and point out all the different cliques and groups.  They tell her that it’s particularly important to stay away from Regina George (Rachel McAdams) and her clique, the plastics: Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert) and Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried).  They have a reputation as the meanest girls in the entire school.  Everyone admires them, yet fears them at the same time.  They invite Cady to sit with them at lunch and eventually befriend her over time.  Everything seems to being going smoothly until Regina begins dating Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett).  This devastates Cady, as she told Regina that she had a crush on him and Regina agreed to hook them up.  Therefore, Cady, with the help of Janice and Damian, aims to bring down Regina from her reign as Queen Bee.

As previously stated, this movie was extremely sophisticated and smart for a teen comedy.  Tina Fey wrote the screenplay, and although she had Wiseman’s book to adapt, the characters she wrote were completely made up and did not exist in the book.  She was able to create them based on the character types Wiseman wrote in her book.  Movies about high school often contain characters that don’t seem like high school students.  Whether it’s the way the characters speak or act, they seem to be filling a stereotype that was created in the 80’s with the advent of the high school comedy movie.  This was not the case with Mean Girls.  The characters seemed really fresh and added new flavor to the teen comedy genre; they genuinely seemed like high school students.  Whether it was Cady and her transformation from naïve home school student to next in line queen bee, or Gretchen as the former sidekick who has been thrown to the side, the characters felt like people I went to high school with.  The jokes were witty and the commentaries from different characters on different situations throughout the movie were really funny.  By far the funniest storyline was Gretchen trying to make “fetch” the next catchphrase.  The reactions from the different characters were priceless, and in turn Gretchen’s reaction to her rejection was even funnier.

Additionally, I felt that the acting was really strong for a teen comedy.  The main cast had incredible comedic timing, which is a skill that  is very underappreciated in the acting world.  The main cast was well picked: a pre-train wreck Lindsay Lohan was loveable as the newbie Cady, Rachel McAdams was the perfect mixture of Cruella Deville meets high school student, and Tina Fey was perfection as the math teacher trying to be hip.  Even the supporting cast and actors with cameos were perfectly cast.  However, the best performance by far was Lacey Chabert as Gretchen.  She was the disgruntled former best friend, and by far the most hysterical.  In every scene she was in your eyes were immediately drawn to her.  She stole her scenes and makes you root for her as the underdog.

All and all, this is one teen movie that anyone of any age would love. The writing is smart, the acting is top-notch, and even the soundtrack was awesome.  The movie definitely breaks the mold of teen comedies; it reinvented the genre and helped breathe new life into it.  Like always, I will end my review with a question: who were you in high school? Were you a plastic, drama kid, nerd, or someone who moved to the beat of his or her own drum?

Until next time happy viewing!

5 out of 5 stars

Mean Girls (2004)
Paramount Pictures
PG-13, 97 Minutes

Adam’s Film Friday – The Notebook

Hey guys. Sorry for the lack of review last week, I was on vacation/recovering from working 16 hours on Cinco de Mayo, but I’m back. For this week, we are going back to what this set of blogs was originally supposed to be about: reviews for movies based on books or works of literature. This week is also a new genre for this series: a romance. For this week’s movie, I will be reviewing Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook.

The Notebook starts off with Duke (James Garner) telling an unnamed woman (Gena Rowlands) a story. The story is about young lovers Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) and Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams), who meet one night at a festival. From the moment he sees Allie, Noah is enamored with her and has to go on a date with her. He goes as far as climbing up a Ferris wheel to ask her out, to which she eventually says yes. Their relationship is volatile, with constant fighting and making up. As the summer goes on they become more serious, but they break up after a fight one night and Allie moves out of Seabrook and into college in New York. Noah writes one letter a day for a year to Allie. Unfortunately, she doesn’t receive any of the letters because they are intercepted by her controlling mother, Anne Hamilton (Joan Allen). Allie eventually moves on while in college, while Noah goes to fight in World War II. When some of the soldiers come back, Allie volunteers as a nurse’s aide and falls in love with wounded soldier Lon Hammond Jr. (James Marsden), eventually becoming engaged to him. When Noah comes back from the war, he repairs an old plantation home that he purchases and gets his name and picture in newspaper. While Allie is trying on her wedding dress, she sees Noah’s picture and decides she needs to go visit him to move on with her life. When she goes to visit him, she realizes her first love isn’t completely dead and must choose who she wants to share her life with. Does she choose the man she promised herself to or her first love?

I have to admit, the first time I saw this movie I was pretty sure I was just going to see another chick flick with a sappy ending. I actually enjoyed this movie a lot more than I was expecting to. The story, which is based on Nicholas Spark’s novel, is a truly original take on a classic love story. Most love stories are too pure and the couple always gets along in an unnatural way. I liked that this couple despite all their flaws truly loved each other. Like Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth from Persuasion, the sum of the couple as a whole was better than their existence separately.

Another highlight of the movie was the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, who played Noah and Allie. They played off their character quirks quite well, and I almost felt like I was watching a real couple rather than characters. (In reality, McAdams and Gosling did date for 3 years after making the Notebook). Rachel McAdams was especially incredible in this role. She embodied Allie. She seemed so genuinely conflicted in choosing between Lon and Noah. As the viewer, your eyes are just drawn to her when she is on the screen.

All and all I really enjoyed the Notebook. It has a great story, but also features even better actors that bought the story to life. Like always, I will end my review with a question: do you believe true love exists? If it does, do you think it truly conquers all? After seeing this movie, you might change your perspective on true love. Until next time, happy viewing.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Notebook (2004)
New Line Cinema
PG-13, 123 Minutes