Cady Heron is a hit with The Plastics, the A-list girl clique at her new school, until she makes the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina George.
This tart and often charming new comedy is a version of the heart-of-darkness teen social comedy "Heathers" for the tweener audience; it has the ambitious and cartoony dark side of a Disney Channel sitcom, with a lively and talented young cast headed by the cherubic Lindsay Lohan. The "Saturday Night Live" writer and performer Tina Fey wrote the script and gives the material a stylized vitality. But it does add a be-yourself finale that, while standard for such movies, this picture doesn't quite seem to buy — it's the kind of bored manipulation you come to expect from the Plastics, the pack of hallway-shrewd and glamorous teen queens who rule, through subtle terror, the high school that Cady (Ms. Lohan) attends. It's her first brush with socialization, since Cady was home schooled by her zoologist parents, who raised their daughter while traveling in Africa. Since most of "Girls" consists of the outsider Cady observing the tribal rites of her new setting and laying it all out in narration, this movie is great home for the meticulous and ruthless deadpan that Ms. Fey has perfected for the satirical "S.N.L." newscast. Though narrative cohesion isn't the strength of "Girls" — as a series of moments, it works better from scene to scene than as a whole — the intelligence shines in its understanding of contradictions. Scene by scene, you can't help but be impressed by "Girls"; it's like a group of sketches linked by theme, with some playing much better than others. But after a while, it does begin to seem like it has the easily diverted attention span of one of its archetypal high school kids — you feel a little like a scold for wanting it to buckle down and concentrate. — Elvis Mitchell
2004-04-30 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of Mean Girls