Teenagers react to ‘Mean Girls’ ten years after it was released

Wide Screen

Ready to feel old? “Mean Girls” was released ten years ago this month --April 30, 2004, to be exact. To put that in perspective, star Lindsay Lohan was just 17 years old when “Mean Girls” was shot. If the Tina Fey-penned high school comedy had been made today, its star likely would have been born in 1997. Yikes.

And how does the film hold up ten years on? According to the latest “Teens React to…” video, it holds up pretty well.

Even kids who were three or four years old when “Mean Girls” was released (they're now high school students! Gah!) regard the movie fondly. It’s very rare for a movie to appeal across generations like this, let alone be quoted a decade later by kids who were basically infants when it was first released.

Starring Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, Lacey Chabert, and Lizzy Caplan, the high school comedy has become something of a cult classic in the years since it hit theatres. Most of the people involved in the film have gone on to much bigger careers, particularly Fey, McAdams, Seyfried, and Caplan.

But why does “Mean Girls” have this sort of staying power? What did it do that other teen comedies from the same era didn’t? (We’re looking at you, “Get Over It”.)

For one, the film manages to capture the North American high school experience – particularly the experience of teenage girls – in a way that’s both entertaining and not patronizing. While the characters may be caricatures to some degree, they’re not that far removed from people you might have actually known in high school. At its heart, “Mean Girls” is about the struggle to fit in, a timeless and all-too-familiar issue for teenagers and anyone who’s ever spent any time in high school.

The film also benefits from having been made in the mid-2000s, an era when teenage style and fashion were fairly neutral when compared to films made just a few years earlier or in the late '90s. Technology may have changed drastically over the past decade or so, but unlike '90s teen films like “Clueless” and “Can’t Hardly Wait,” the way in which people dressed in 2004 doesn’t date the movie (...yet).

"Mean Girls" is also really funny and very smart thanks to screenwriter Fey, who also co-stars in the film. Teen comedies are almost always reviled by movie reviewers, but even late critic Roger Ebert, who regularly decried the "wasteland of dumb movies about teenagers," heaped praise on the film in his thumbs-up review. And he wasn't alone in his appraisal. The film currently enjoys an 83 per cent fresh rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

Does "Mean Girls" have a modern equivalent? Will any of today's teen movies be so well regarded in ten years time?

You could certainly point to films like "Superbad" (2007), "Chronicle" (2012), and "The Spectacular Now" (2013) as prime examples of contemporary teen films that will have a lasting impact (mostly due to a memorable concepts and fantastic reviews). Sadly, though, traditional teen comedies are becoming a rarity. The genre has mostly been replaced by teen-oriented adventure films like "The Twilight Saga" and "The Hunger Games" movies, and those teen comedies that are actually being produced are mostly forgettable.

Will recent examples like "LOL," "Easy A," and "The To-Do List" be looked back upon with fondness in 2024? We'll have to wait and see.