Mean Girls

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Mean Girls Movie Poster Image
Mature but often-hilarious teen comedy.
  • PG-13
  • 2004
  • 95 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 53 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 380 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

After rumors, name-calling, and the viciousness of the insults chronicled in a secret "burn book" culminate in high school hallways packed with students fighting, one of the teachers attempts to find ways to address the ugliness of cliques and name-calling among female students. After her role in the "burn book," the lead character helps to make her school less cliquish, and has clearly learned from the mistakes she has made. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lead character learns to move beyond high school cliques and vicious name-calling, as well as her "mean girl" friends. Gay teen character presented as three-dimensional, not a stereotype or punchline. Nearly all of the adults aren't good role models: The mother of one teen girl offers her daughter and her friends alcohol, and offers her daughter condoms when she walks in on her about to have sex. The sex education teacher, a coach, commits statutory rape with two of his students. Other adults are clueless. One of the teachers initiates a discussion about name-calling and bullying among teen girls, clearly an attempt to convey a clear positive message amidst the comedy. 

Violence

Character shown getting hit by a bus; wears a halo brace for the rest of the movie. Exaggerated fistfights break out in high school hallways after it's revealed what insults students have thrown at each other. 

Sex

Crude humor and references. Girls call other girls names like "slut" and "skank." When the mother of one of the "mean girls" walks in on her daughter on the verge of having sex, she asks her if she needs any condoms. This same mother has fake breasts; sight gags and verbal jokes made about them. Humor in the misspelling of venereal diseases by the sex education teacher, who is later revealed to be having sex with two of his students and is shown making out with one of the students. A teen boy student asks a teen girl, "Is your muffin buttered?" Joke made referencing "sexually active band geeks." A little girl is shown watching Girls Gone Wild on TV and imitates it. 

Language

Frequent profanity and name-calling. "F---ing" used once, "f--k" used in a soundtrack song. "Motherf-----r" almost said, but clearly implied. Gay slurs used. Put-downs on the order of "slut-faced ho bag, nastiest skank bitch," "fugly slut" often used. "Bitch" used many times. "Retarded" used as an insult. "A--hole." "Damn." Character spoken of as being "half a virgin." Teen boy asks teen girl, "Is your muffin buttered?" 

Consumerism

One of the lead characters comes from a wealthy home because her father invented Toaster Strudel. A box of Dunkin' Donuts prominently featured in one scene. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage drinking: Teen throws a party that turns into a blow-out; she drinks from a bowl of spiked punch and takes shots, acts very drunk, eventually throws up as a result. The mother of one of the teens enters with a tray of what looks like tropical cocktails, then offers to put booze in them for her daughter and her friends. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mean Girls is a 2004 comedy in which Lindsay Lohan plays Cady, a new girl in a high school where a clique of popular girls dominate. Some mature material for a PG-13 film, including crude humor, sexual references, references to venereal disease, underage drinking, and comic violence. Teen girls call other girls names like "slut-faced ho bag," "fugly slut," and "nastiest skank bitch." The mother of one of the "mean girls" offers alcohol to her daughter and her friends, acts drunk, and offers condoms to her daughter when she walks in on her on the verge of having sex. The sex-ed teacher is revealed to be committing statutory rape with two students, and is shown making out with a teen girl. Homosexual slurs used. There's a prank involving a pregnancy test. Cady allows her home to be taken over by partying teens, gets drunk, and throws up. A child watches Girls Gone Wild and imitates it. A girl refers to herself as "half a virgin" and there's a joke about girl-girl kissing. A strength of the movie is its positive portrayal of diverse characters, including disabled, gay, and minority students. Overall, it's a biting satire that doesn't shy away from the hypocrisy of some adults, and doesn't sugarcoat the language and behavior of teens when, mired in insecurity and feelings of inferiority, they spread terrible rumors and hurl vitriolic insults, and it tries to use the story to combat and address this issue. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPollyRoger April 9, 2008

Over hyped teen movie

Once again, commonsensemedia over exaggerates. The language is strong, yes, but not for a PG-13. There are no f-words in the movie. Also, there's was a lot... Continue reading
Adult Written byCSM Screen Name... April 9, 2008

YUK!!!

Trash mouth...nasty girls with absolutely stupid adults. Sex is the number one topic and it is pushed to the limit. It is terrible to be a nice girl...and to be... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bygabilovesyouhh February 7, 2010
i lvoe this movie, but it would be awkward to watch it with family.
Teen, 14 years old Written bypopstar1049 May 15, 2010
I LOVE THIS MOVIE! it's one that will really make you laugh! There's a few iffy stuff in it, I would say it's good for pre-teens and teens. It se... Continue reading

What's the story?

MEAN GIRLS is about a girl who takes on a ruling clique. It's based on Queen Bees and Wannabes, a nonfiction book by Rosalind Wiseman about alpha girls and the impact they have on everyone else, adapted by Saturday Night Live head writer (and Weekend Update anchor) Tina Fey. Previously homeschooled by her zoologist parents while living in Africa, Cady (Lindsay Lohan) moves to Evanston, Illinois, and attends high school. Cady finds herself having a hard time understanding the social norms in the school, and is drawn to "the Plastics," the most popular clique in the school.

Is it any good?

There's much that's fresh and sharp in this movie. And while Mean Girls has an uncertain hold on its plot and ends up pulling some of its punches and throwing in teen comedy clichés we have seen before, it's still enjoyable and thought-provoking for teens.

Screenwriter Tina Fey, who appears as a sympathetic teacher, has a good sense of how girls like Regina operate to establish their domination, appearing to be sweet and supportive but in reality being competitive, duplicitous, and manipulative, and always surrounding themselves with people who will add to their power and not challenge them. And Fey's superb sense of comedy gives the script some biting humor. Her Saturday Night Live colleagues lend support to the cast, with Tim Meadows as the school principal, Ana Gasteyer as Cady's mother, and Amy Poehler superb as Regina's mother, who insists, "I'm not like a regular mom; I'm a cool mom!"

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the elements that determine status for teenagers -- like those Cady must learn to navigate in Mean Girls -- are different from those that determine status in the adult world, at work, and with friends and family.

  • Use this movie to begin a discussion about the way that the girls your kids know treat each other, and the actions they can take to encourage the girls to be kinder and more supportive.

  • Ask kids if they know any "mean girls." How do they deal with them?

  • How do the characters in Mean Girls demonstrate integrity and empathy? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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