A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this follow-up to the hit movie Mean Girls has all-new characters but still deals with always-relevant teen issues like popularity, sexuality, and status seeking. There's some relatively salty language -- especially "ass" and "bitch" -- and several references to high-school relationships, whether it's to a promiscuous girl who trades make-out sessions for homework or the "embarassment" of still being a virgin who's only kissed one boy. Consumerism and materialism are referred to on an ongoing basis, especially cars and fashion designers. The upside is that families who watch can have thorough discussions about the mean girls they've encountered themselves.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Jo Mitchell (Meaghan Martin) is perpetually the new girl in school. The daughter of a NASCAR mechanic (Linden Ashby), she's spending her senior year at North Shore High, her sixth school in four years. Usually, Jo keeps to herself, but when she stands up to a trio of girls who rule the school -- queen bee Mandi (Maiara Walsh), vapid sexpot Chastity (Claire Holt), and well-dressed germaphobe Hope (Nicole Gale Anderson) -- she finds herself the target of their mean-girl viciousness. Confusing matters is the class' wealthy wallflower, Abby (Jennifer Stone), whose rich father offers Jo college tuition in exchange for befriending Abby. Jo accepts the deal and winds up becoming best friends with Abby, falling for Mandi's sweet stepbrother Tyler (Diego Gonzalez Boneta) and eventually rivaling the Plastics for social control of the school.
Is it any good?
Like most teen-targeted, made-for-TV movies, MEAN GIRLS 2 has decent production values, veteran young actors, and a very predictable plot. Anyone who's seen the original Tina Fey-penned, Lindsay Lohan-starring comedy will know pretty much exactly what's happening from the opening credits. But Jo, unlike Lohan's Cady, doesn't become one of the Plastics; she creates her own Anti-Plastics clique that takes on the alpha girls. But otherwise, the clique's name is the same, the girls fall into the same exact stereotypes (one dim, promiscuou blond a la Amanda Seyfried and one high-strung, brunette fashionista like Lacey Chabert), and the story arc about the protagonist becoming a little too much like the Mean Girls is the same as well. It would have been better if the writers had come up with a more original story that didn't ape the original as much.
The actors are all small-screen alums who know the drill, and Tim Meadows reprises his role as a principal who kinda hates the students but can't really do anything to stop their appalling behavior. Parts of the movie are a bit ridiculous (what upper-middle-class school allows toy dogs or blatant bullying?), but it's the conversations this movie can inspire that make it worth checking out. Every school has its Mean Girls (and Mean Guys), and it's worthwhile to see this with your teens and tweens and then gauge how they handle clique worship and exclusivity. And if you haven't seen the original, definitely give it a go; it looks like a master class compared to this TV-fied version.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the "mean girls" phenomenon. How do your kids deal with them at their school?
In this movie, why do girls get called a "bitch" nastily if they have boyfriends or a "virgin" nastily if they haven't gone all the way? Is it OK to make fun of people for their sexual experience or lack thereof? Teens: What kinds of expectations are there around sexuality in your school?
The Plastics are materialistic and brand-obsessed. How do high-schoolers handle consumerism when it comes to cars and clothes -- especially if they can't afford to buy what's designer and trendy?