Monday, January 07, 2013

The First 15 Minutes Project: Cady Heron in Mean Girls

High School Week Continues!
I just got around to watching this one and I was very impressed, so let’s figure out why...
  1. African drumming plays over titles on black, then fade up to: 
  2. Two parents look down on the camera’s POV offering a bag lunch and talking about how brave she is on her first day of school. But then the POV rises up: it turns out that it belongs to a 16 year girl who had been sitting down on the steps listening to her parents. Voiceover comes in: “I guess its natural for parents to cry on their kid's first day of school. But you know this usually happens when the kid is five. I'm 16 and until today i was home-schooled. I know what you're thinking. Home-schooled kids are freaks...” 
  3. Snarky montage of freaky homeschooled kids: Intense little girl wins spelling bee with xylocarp… 
  4. …“Or that we’re really religious or something…” Inbred hick kids talk about shooting homosexuals…
  5.  …But she explains that her family isn’t like that: They’ve been in Africa doing research. We see fun picture of the three of them hanging out with the animals there. 
  6.  Her parents drop her off at school, and she promises she’ll be fine, but then she almost gets run over by a bus.
  7. She walks across the lawn toward the front door, through a teeming crowd that’s fighting, burning a notebook and doing other vaguely scary things. 
  8.  She enters a classroom and mistakes a tall girl for the teacher. The girl threatens to kick her ass. Cady tries to sit next to her but a goth girl, Janis, and her gay friend, Damien, yell out that she shouldn’t, because the tall girl’s boyfriend is going to sit there. Sure enough, the boyfriend slips into the seat and immediately begins making out with the tall girl vigorously. Cady starts to go towards another seat, but Janis and Damien warn her not to sit there because the guy in the desk in front farts. The loser-ish guy shrugs in confirmation. Cady turn to find another desk, but runs into the teacher, causing the teacher to spill her coffee all over herself. Janis and Damien laugh and give a thumbs up. Cady apologizes. Teacher says that’s all right, tries to take off her sweater, but her T-shirt sticks to it and reveals her bra. The principal comes by and wonders what’s going on. The teacher realizes what’s happened and Cady helps her lower her t-shirt. The principal asks about the teacher summer. The teacher says she got divorced. Principal starts awkwardly hitting on her. Principal announces to class that they have a new student from Africa. Teacher welcomes the one black student, but she’s from Detroit. They realize that it’s Cady, who is awkwardly introduced.
  9. Back in the hall “The first day of school was a blur, a stressful, surreal blur. I got in trouble for the most random things. I’d never been in a world where adults didn’t trust me.” 
  10. Funny montage of her being yelled at by her teachers for petty things.
  11. She’s in the lunch room, looking for a place to sit. The Asians won’t let her sit there. The dudes are saying “It only counts if you see nipple,” so she doesn’t want to sit there. She greets the black kids with an African greeting and they take offense. 
  12. She eats her lunch alone in a bathroom stall as the credits end.
  13. She comes home and her parents ask her how her first day was. She just huffs in frustration and blows past them. 
  14. Day 2: She sits next to Janis and Damien. (Where did she sit yesterday? Shouldn’t this scene have come then?) Damien asks, “Is that your natural hair color. It’s gorgeous.” She says thanks. He yanks on her hair and holds it up to his, explaining to Janis that this is the color he wants. Janis explains to Cady that Damien is almost too gay to live. Cady asks where her health class is. They say that it’s in the annex and they’ll take her there…
  15. …But instead they take her out back behind the school to skip class. Cady talks to Damien: “I like math.” “Ew. Why?” “It’s the same in every country.” “Wow. That’s beautiful. This girl is deep!” They point out to Cady that she’s very attractive, which she hadn’t noticed. They explain to Cady about who the cliques are. They watch the attractive, mean girls known as “the plastics” led by a girl named Regina.
  16. As they re-enter, they talk about the big dance, which Damien is excited about but Janice hates. Janice draws Cady a map of the cafeteria: 
  17. We hear Janice narrate her map as Cady navigates the cafeteria. “Here this map is gonna be your guide to North Shore. Now where you sit in the cafeteria is crucial because you got everbody there: Freshmen, ROTC guys, Preps, JV Jocks, Asian nerds, Cool Asians, Varsity Jocks, Unfriendly black hotties, Girls who eat their feeling, Girls who don’t eat anything, Desperate wannabes, Burn outs, Sexually Active band geeks, The Greatest people you will ever meet (Janice and Damien), AND THE WORST BEWARE OF THE PLASTICS!” But as Cady enters, a guy tries to hit on her in front of the plastics. Regina ridicules him and sends him away, then invites Cady to join the table. She shoots an apologetic look over to Janis and Damien and sits with them. Regina interrogates her and decides to accept her as a fourth member.
  18.  After lunch, Cady meets with Janis and Damien in the girls bathroom and Janis proposes that Cady accept the invitation and spy on the plastics for them. Cady reluctantly accepts. 
  19. That afternoon, in math class, Cady develops a crush on a boy.
  20. The next day, her first as an official plastic, she figures out the percentage of calories from fat in Regina’s diet bar. When Regina gets up, Cady tells one of the girls about the boy she likes, but she’s warned that she can’t like him, because he used to go out with Regina.

(Incidentally, Lohan really does give a vulnerable-yet-charismatic star-making performance here. Who would have guessed that she’d be a punchline today, while co-stars McAdams, Seyfried and even Lizzy Caplan would all be going strong?  Ah well.) Tomorrow: the ultimate zero-to-hero tale...


Unknown said...

I decided to check this out only because one of my characters got compared to one of the plastics. I have to say, this movie really impressed me. I wasn't expecting much but the story was compelling and the message was great.

This is probably one of the "deepest" comedies I've ever seen. Bravo to Rosalind Wiseman and Tina Fey for such a great story.

Megan M. said...

I love Mean Girls! Tina Fey is a genius. She took a non-fiction book about how girls behave socially and turned it into a witty, highly quotable film with heart.