Mean Girls

Mean Girls is a 2004 American teen comedy film directed by Mark Waters, and written by Tina Fey. The film stars Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler and Fey. It is partially based on Rosalind Wiseman's 2002 non-fiction self-help book, Queen Bees and Wannabes, which describes female high school social cliques and the damaging effects they can have on girls. Fey also drew from her own experience at Upper Darby High School as an inspiration for some of the concepts in the film.[3] The film introduced Amanda Seyfried in her film debut.

Mean Girls
Mean Girls film poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMark Waters
Produced byLorne Michaels
Screenplay byTina Fey
Based onQueen Bees and Wannabes
by Rosalind Wiseman
Music byRolfe Kent
CinematographyDaryn Okada
Edited byWendy Greene Bricmont
Lorne Michaels Productions
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • April 19, 2004 (2004-04-19) (Cinerama Dome)
  • April 30, 2004 (2004-04-30) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$17 million[2]
Box office$130 million[2]

Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels produced the film; Tina Fey, screenwriter and co-star of the film, was a long-term cast member and writer for SNL. Although set in Evanston, Illinois (a Chicago suburb), the film was mostly shot in Toronto, Canada. The film marks Lohan's second collaboration with director Waters, the first being Freaky Friday, released a year earlier.

Released on April 30, 2004, the film grossed $129 million worldwide and developed a cult following.[4][5][6][7][8][9] A direct-to-video sequel, Mean Girls 2, premiered on ABC Family (now Freeform) on January 23, 2011. The musical adaptation of Mean Girls premiered on Broadway in March 2018.


Sixteen-year-old homeschooled Cady Heron and her zoologist parents Betsy and Chip Heron return to the United States after a twelve-year research trip in Africa, settling in Evanston, Illinois. On her first day ever of attending a school, North Shore High School, Cady attempts to make new friends, but to no avail. The next day, she meets and befriends Janis Ian and Damian Leigh. They educate Cady on the school's various cliques and warn her to avoid the most popular and infamous one, the "Plastics", which is led by fit queen bee Regina George and includes the insecure but rich Gretchen Wieners and sweet but dimwitted Karen Smith. The Plastics take an interest in Cady after defending her against a classmate, and invite her to sit with them at lunch. After learning of the invitation, Janis asks Cady to befriend them and to spy on them for her.

Cady soon learns about the "Burn Book", a scrapbook the Plastics have made that is filled with rumors, secrets, and insults about other girls and some teachers at school. Using the book, Janis devises a plan to get back at Regina but Cady is reluctant, thinking Regina is a good friend. She becomes attracted to Regina's ex-boyfriend, Aaron Samuels, and purposely fails math in order to have an excuse to talk to him. Regina finds out about Cady's crush on Aaron and jealously steals him back at a Halloween party by kissing him in front of Cady. This spurs Cady to fully commit to Janis' plan to cut off Regina's "resources": involving breaking Regina and Aaron up, tricking Regina into eating "Swedish nutrition bars" that actually make her gain weight, and turning Regina's fellow Plastics against her. In the process, Cady unwittingly remakes herself in Regina's image, becoming spiteful and superficial, and abandons Janis and Damian.

When Regina is finally made aware of Cady's treachery, she retaliates by spreading the contents of the Burn Book all over the school, quickly inciting massive socially motivated brawls throughout the halls. To avoid suspicion, Regina inserts a fake label of herself in the book in order to blame Cady, Gretchen, and Karen, the only female juniors not mentioned in the book. Karen convinces the school's principal, Ron Duvall, that they did not write the book, who soon quells the fighting and gathers all of the junior girls in the gymnasium. Math teacher Ms. Norbury, whom the Burn Book defamed as a drug dealer, makes the girls face the ways they all treat each other and apologize to each other and the teachers; the plan sees success, as friendships are rekindled. When Janis' turn comes, she defies Norbury, confessing her plan to destroy Regina with Cady's help and openly mocking Regina, drawing praise from other students Regina bullied. Pursued by an apologetic Cady, Regina storms out of the school and is struck by a school bus, breaking her spine, and rumors spread that Cady pushed Regina in front of the bus.

Shunned by her peers and grounded by her parents, Cady takes full blame for the Burn Book. After making amends with Regina, she joins the Mathletes in the state championship finals to make up for the math tests she failed. Cady answers the tie-breaker correctly, and they win the championship for the school. At the Spring Fling dance, Regina's new boyfriend Shane Oman is elected King, while Cady is elected Queen. Onstage, Cady declares that all of her classmates are wonderful in their own way, snaps her plastic tiara, and distributes the pieces to other girls in the crowd. She then reconciles with Janis, Damian, and Aaron, and reaches a truce with the Plastics.

The Plastics disband over summer vacation: Regina joins the lacrosse team to deal with her anger, Karen becomes the school weather reporter and Gretchen joins the "Cool Asians" clique. Aaron graduates from high school and attends Northwestern University, while starting a relationship with Cady, who visits him during the weekends. Janis begins dating Mathlete Kevin Gnapoor, whom she initially disliked. As Cady reflects on the societal peace that has taken over North Shore High, a group of new "Junior Plastics" has arisen, and Cady imagines them being hit by a bus like Regina was.


  • Lindsay Lohan as Cady Heron, a 16-year-old girl who transfers to a public high school after being homeschooled her whole life in Africa.
    • Jessie Wright as 5-year-old Cady.
  • Rachel McAdams as Regina George, a rich popular teenager. Regina is Janis's ex-best friend and the leader of The Plastics.
  • Lacey Chabert as Gretchen Wieners, a member of the Plastics who only wants Regina's acceptance.
  • Amanda Seyfried as Karen Smith, the airhead best friend of Regina and Gretchen.
  • Lizzy Caplan as Janis Ian, a goth artistic girl who befriends Cady and hatches a plan to take down Regina. Janis is Damian's best friend and Regina's ex-best friend.
  • Daniel Franzese as Damian Leigh, Janis and Cady's gay best friend who is flamboyant and musical.
  • Jonathan Bennett as Aaron Samuels, Regina's ex-boyfriend, and Cady's love interest.
  • Rajiv Surendra as Kevin Gnapoor, the "hormonal Mathletes president" who is attracted to Janis.
  • Tina Fey as Ms. Sharon Norbury, the school calculus teacher.
  • Tim Meadows as Principal Ron Duvall.
  • Amy Poehler as June George, Regina and Kylie's irresponsible mother.
  • Ana Gasteyer as Betsy Heron, Cady's mom.
  • Neil Flynn as Chip Heron, Cady's dad.
  • Daniel DeSanto as Jason, Gretchen's unfaithful boyfriend.
  • Diego Klattenhoff as Shane Oman, a football player who has an on-and-off relationship with Regina.
  • Alisha Morrison as Lea Edwards
  • Julia Chantrey as Amber D'Alessio
  • Dwayne Hill as Coach Carr
  • Jonathan Malen as Kristen Hadley's boyfriend



Mean Girls writer Tina Fey

Tina Fey read Rosalind Wiseman's Queen Bees and Wannabes and called Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels to suggest it could be turned into a film. Michaels contacted Paramount Pictures, who purchased the rights to the book. As the book is nonfiction, Fey wrote the plot from scratch, borrowing elements from her own high school experience and her impressions of Evanston Township High School, upon which the film's fictional "North Shore High School" is based.[10]

Fey named many characters after real life friends. In a 2014 interview about the movie, she told Entertainment Weekly, "I tried to use real names in writing because it’s just easier."[11] Main character Cady Heron was named after Fey's college roommate Cady Garey.[12] Damian was named after Fey's high school friend Damian Holbrook, who is now a writer for TV Guide.[13] Minor character Glenn Coco is named after a friend of Fey's older brother; the real Glenn Coco works as a film editor in Los Angeles.[11] Janis Ian was named after openly lesbian singer Janis Ian, who was one of the musical guests on the first Saturday Night Live episode, in which she sang the song "At Seventeen", which can be heard playing in the background when the girls are fighting at Regina's house.[14]


Lindsay Lohan first read for Regina George, but the casting team felt she was closer to what they were looking for in the actress who played Cady, and since Lohan feared the "mean girl" role would harm her reputation, she agreed to play the lead. Rachel McAdams was cast as Regina because Fey felt McAdams being "kind and polite" made her perfect for such an evil-spirited character. McAdams was cast during the time as Allison Hamilton in The Notebook. Amanda Seyfried also read for Regina, and the producers instead suggested her for Karen due to Seyfried's "spacey and daffy sense of humor". Both Lacey Chabert and Daniel Franzese were the last actors tested for their roles. Lizzy Caplan was at first considered too pretty for the part of Janis, for which director Mark Waters felt a "Kelly Osbourne-like actress" was necessary, but Caplan was picked for being able to portray raw emotion. Fey wrote two roles based on fellow SNL alumni, Amy Poehler (whom Fey thought the producers would not accept because of being too young to portray a teenager's mother) and Tim Meadows, and the cast ended up with a fourth veteran of the show, Ana Gasteyer.[14] Evan Rachel Wood was offered a role in the film, but turned it down.[15]


Although set in Evanston, Illinois, the film was mostly shot in Toronto at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute and Malvern Collegiate Institute, as well as at Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey.[16] Notable landmarks include the University of Toronto's Convocation Hall and Sherway Gardens. Principal photography commenced on September 27, 2003, and concluded on November 21.[17]


Box officeEdit

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $24.4 million from 3,159 screens[18] at 2,839 theaters in the United States, ranking #1 at the box office and averaging $8,606 per venue.[2] The film closed on September 9, 2004, grossing $86.1 million domestically and $43 million internationally for a total worldwide gross of $129 million.[2]

Critical responseEdit

Mean Girls received generally positive reviews; critics lauded McAdams' performance and labeled the film as Lohan, Seyfried and Caplan's breakthrough roles. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 84% based on 187 reviews, with an average rating of 6.95/10. The site's critical consensus states "Elevated by a brilliant screenplay and outstanding ensemble cast, Mean Girls finds fresh, female-fronted humor in the high school experience."[19] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 66 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[20] On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[21]

Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post stated that it "boasts a one-two-three punch in star Lindsay Lohan, screenwriter Tina Fey and director Mark Waters, and, indeed, it delivers a knockout". The screenplay was highly praised by critics with Peter Travers of Rolling Stone calling it "comic gold".[22] In November 2012, Rotten Tomatoes included the film in its 'Top 50 Greatest Teen Comedies' list.[23]


The film won and was nominated for a number of awards throughout 2004–05.[citation needed]

Year Ceremony Category Recipients Result
2004 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Comedy Lindsay Lohan Won
Choice Movie: Breakout Actress Lindsay Lohan Won
Choice Movie: Blush Lindsay Lohan Won
Choice Movie: Breakout Actress Rachel McAdams Nominated
Choice Movie: Breakout Actor Jonathan Bennett Nominated
Choice Movie: Comedy Nominated
Choice Movie Actress: Comedy Rachel McAdams Nominated
Choice Movie: Blush Rachel McAdams Nominated
Choice Movie: Chemistry Lindsay Lohan and Jonathan Bennett Nominated
Choice Movie: Fight/Action Sequence Lindsay Lohan vs. Rachel McAdams Nominated
Choice Movie: Hissy Fit Rachel McAdams Nominated
Choice Movie: Liar Lindsay Lohan Nominated
Choice Movie: Villain Rachel McAdams Nominated
2005 MTV Movie Awards Best Female Performance Lindsay Lohan Won
Breakthrough Female Performance Rachel McAdams Won
Best On-Screen Team Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, and Amanda Seyfried Won
Best Villain Rachel McAdams Nominated
Kids Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actress Lindsay Lohan Nominated
People's Choice Awards Favorite Movie: Comedy Nominated
Writers Guild of America Award Best Adapted Screenplay Tina Fey Nominated


Mean Girls:
Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedSeptember 21, 2004 (2004-09-21)
teen pop
punk rock
ProducerVarious Artists
Singles from Mean Girls:
Music from the Motion Picture
  1. "Dancing with Myself"
    Released: June 1, 2004[24]
Review scores
AllMusic      Link

Mean Girls: Music from the Motion Picture was released by Rykodisc and Bulletproof Records on September 21, 2004, the same day as the DVD release.

  1. "Dancing with Myself" by The Donnas (Generation X cover)
  2. "God Is a DJ" by Pink
  3. "Milkshake" by Kelis
  4. "Sorry (Don't Ask Me)" by All Too Much
  5. "Built This Way" by Samantha Ronson
  6. "Rip Her to Shreds" by Boomkat (Blondie cover)
  7. "Overdrive" by Katy Rose
  8. "One Way or Another" by Blondie
  9. "Operate" by Peaches
  10. "Misty Canyon" by Anjali Bhatia
  11. "Mean Gurl" by Gina Rene and Gabriel Rene
  12. "Hated" by Nikki Cleary
  13. "Psyché Rock", by Pierre Henry (Fatboy Slim Malpaso mix)
  14. "The Mathlete Rap" by Rajiv Surendra
  15. "Jingle Bell Rock"

Though not included on the soundtrack, other songs heard in the film include the single "Pass That Dutch" by Missy Elliott, "Naughty Girl" by Beyoncé, "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera, "Fire" by Joe Budden featuring Busta Rhymes, "At Seventeen" by Janis Ian, and "Halcyon + On + On" by Orbital, "Put 'Em Up" by N.O.R.E featuring Pharrell Williams, "Oh Yeah" / "Run" by Gabriel Rene and "Love's Theme" by The Love Unlimited Orchestra.

Rolfe Kent wrote the film's orchestral score, which was orchestrated by Tony Blondal. The score features taiko drums and a full orchestra.

Home mediaEdit

Mean Girls was released on VHS and DVD in North America on September 21, 2004, five months after it opened in theaters. It was released in a widescreen special collector's edition and a fullscreen collector's edition, both including several deleted scenes, a blooper reel, three T.V. Spots, the theatrical trailer, previews, and three featurettes.[25] A Blu-ray version of the film was released on April 14, 2009. The film was later re-released on a 15th anniversary blu-ray on June 11, 2019.[citation needed]

Legacy and cultural impactEdit

The film has become a pop-culture phenomenon.[26][27] Fans have made GIFs and memes of the film and posted them on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.[28][29][30]

Mariah Carey expressed several times that she is a fan of the film, using quotes from the film in numerous interviews and TV appearances including a 2013 episode of American Idol. Carey's 2009 single, "Obsessed", begins with an interlude quote where she says, "And I was like, 'Why are you so obsessed with me?'", a line said by Regina George in the film. Carey's ex-husband, Nick Cannon, revealed that the song was inspired by the film.[31]

In August 2013, the White House tweeted a photo of President Obama's dog, Bo, holding a tennis ball and captioning "Bo, stop trying to make fetch happen".[32][33] Taco Bell made a reply to the White House, also using one of the quotes from the film.[34]

In June 2018, the official Twitter account of the Israeli Embassy in the U.S. made headlines when it responded to a tweet by Iranian leader Ali Khamenei, calling Israel "a malignant cancerous tumor", with an animated GIF of the "Why are you so obsessed with me?" quote from Mean Girls.[35]

In an interview about the film, Fey noted, "Adults find it funny. They are the ones who are laughing. Young people watch it like a reality show. It's much too close to their real experiences so they are not exactly guffawing."[36] Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "'Fetch' may never happen, but 2004's eminently quotable movie is still one of the sharpest high school satires ever. Which is pretty grool, if you ask me!"[37] In 2006, Entertainment Weekly also named it the twelfth best high school film of all time, explaining: "There was a time when Lindsay Lohan was best known for her acting rather than her party-hopping. Showcasing Lindsay Lohan in arguably her best role to date, this Tina Fey-scripted film also boasts a breakout turn by Rachel McAdams as evil queen bee Regina George (Gretchen, stop trying to make 'fetch' happen! It's not going to happen!). While Mean Girls is technically a comedy, its depiction of girl-on-girl cattiness stings incredibly true."

At the 2013 People's Choice Awards, Jennifer Lawrence mentioned the film in her speech when she won Favorite Movie Actress.[38] Multiple scenes from the movie have been reenacted and parodied by various celebrities throughout the years following its release, including Ed Sheeran, Iggy Azalea, Amber Rose and Waka Flocka Flame during a 2014 skit for MTV.[39]

October 3 has been dubbed on social media as "Mean Girls Day" in reference to a quote said by the film's main character. People also celebrate this day by wearing "Pink" based on another quote said by Karen in the film. Clothing designers have followed suit by printing this quote onto many pieces and merchandise items.[40]

The sixth episode of the third season of How to Get Away with Murder included several references to the film, including Aja Naomi King's character Michaela Pratt using the line "you can't sit with us", Viola Davis's character Annalise Keating eating her lunch in a toilet cubicle after feeling like an outcast, Karla Souza's character Laurel Castillo using sweatpants on a Monday and Behzad Dabu's character Simon Drake calling several other students "mean girls".[41]

A novel based on the film, by author Micol Ostow, was released in September 2017 by Scholastic.[42] Ariana Grande parodied the film in the music video for her 2019 song "Thank U, Next". The actors Jonathan Bennett and Stefanie Drummond, who were originally part of the film's cast, appeared in the video. A clip of Cady Heron from the movie was featured in a 2020 Discover Card commercial which aired during the Super Bowl LIV.[43] In June 2020, the Taoiseach of Ireland Leo Varadkar quoted Cady's "the limit does not exist" line during a COVID-19 pandemic briefing.[44]

A comic book sequel to the film titled Mean Girls: Senior Year, was written by Arianna Irwin and will be released by Insight Comics in September 2020.[45][46] A Mean Girls-themed pop-up restaurant in Santa Monica called Fetch was also announced in 2020.[47]

Stand-alone sequelEdit

A made-for-television sequel, Mean Girls 2, was premiered on ABC Family (now Freeform) on January 23, 2011 and released on February 1 on DVD.[48][49]

The film is a stand-alone sequel and the plot does not continue the story from the first movie or have the same cast members with the exception of Tim Meadows who reprises his role as Principal Ron Duvall. The film is directed by Melanie Mayron and stars Meaghan Martin and Jennifer Stone.[50]

In other mediaEdit

Video gameEdit

A game for PC was released in 2009 [51] featuring characters specifically created for the game. In 2010, a Mean Girls video game developed by 505 Games for the Nintendo DS handheld game console was announced,[52] but was not released. In 2015, an iOS game based on the film was released.[53] The mobile app, Episode, has several Mean Girls interactive stories set between the events of the first and second films, following the characters from the first film.[54]

Stage musicalEdit

On January 28, 2013, Fey confirmed that a musical adaption of Mean Girls was in the works. Fey wrote the book of the show, 30 Rock composer and Fey's husband Jeff Richmond worked on the music, and Casey Nicholaw directed. Paramount was also involved.[55] The musical premiered at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. on October 31, 2017.[56] Mean Girls opened on Broadway at the August Wilson Theatre, with previews beginning March 12, 2018 and opening on April 8, 2018.[57] On January 23, 2020, Tina Fey announced that a film adaptation of the Mean Girls musical was in active development, with Fey reprising her role as Sharon Norbury from the original film. "I'm very excited to bring Mean Girls back to the big screen. It's been incredibly gratifying to see how much the movie and the musical have meant to audiences. I've spent sixteen years with these characters now. They are my Marvel Universe and I love them dearly," Fey said.[58]


Mean MomsEdit

In early 2014, Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema announced a planned release date of May 8, 2015, for a proposed spin-off of Mean Girls[59] with Jennifer Aniston in talks to lead.[60]

Adapted from another book penned by Rosalind Wiseman, Mean Moms would be written by Sean Anders and John Morris and would star Jennifer Aniston as a mother facing the cut-throat life of modern suburbia. However, in May 2014, New Line Cinema pulled the film from its proposed release date of May 2015; even though the film is still slated for development, there is not currently a release date for the spin-off.[61] On October 7, it was announced that the film was added to the California Film Tax Credit program for the 2014–15 fiscal year, in which the production must start in California within 180 days of notification from the state to receive the $6.7 million production tax credit.[62] In May 2015, it was confirmed the project was still happening and Sean Anders would direct the film;[63] in late 2015 Anders told Cinema Blend the project had been placed on hold.[64]

Potential direct-sequelEdit

In late September 2014, discussions arose that Lohan had pitched an idea to Fey for a sequel. Later that year, Lohan, along with other cast members of the original film, asked Fey to write a screenplay for it. The idea was brought up during a 10th anniversary for the film in Entertainment Weekly, with Fey declaring she regretted not doing a sequel closer to its original release: "At the time we did want to start the conversation about the sequel, and for whatever reason I was like, 'No!!! We shouldn’t do that!' Now I look back and I'm like, 'Why?' But now, no—it’s too late now."[65] Seyfried had previously stated she was "really willing to pursue" a sequel and was unsure why it hadn't happened.[66] In December 2016, Lohan mentioned she was still trying to pitch a direct-sequel, with the hopes of Jamie Lee Curtis and Jimmy Fallon appearing in the film.[67][68] She stated she knew Fey, Michaels and Paramount were busy, declaring: "I will keep forcing it and pushing it on them until we do it."[69] In October 2018, Seyfried said people needed to start a campaign for it to finally come into fruition.[70] In January 2019, Lohan was interviewed by Howard Stern who wondered whether the sequel would ever happen. Lohan repeated her interest in revisiting the role and confirmed she'd spoken to Fey about it, also saying sequel plans weren't currently in the works, "I think they can't do it right now. I've spoken to her [Tina], but it can't happen without her and all of the cast. [...] Sometimes you're like, 'It's just too soon to do it.' But it's been 15 years."[71] In October 2019, Chabert was asked if a sequel would be happening to which she replied: "I don't know. I wish I had an answer for you, I feel like you need to start a petition," while saying she would "of course" revisit the character if given the chance as "it would be so much fun to revisit these women and see where they are now."[72][73]

In April 2020, Lohan was once again questioned about the sequel by David Spade and confessed she had been hanging on to the idea of coming back to doing movies with that project "for a really long time" but that it was out of her hands. "To work with Tina [Fey], and the whole crew again, and Mark Waters. That was really what I wanted. I was excited to do that. But that's all in their hands really," she concluded.[74] A few days later, McAdams also expressed interest in reprising her role in a sequel,[75] after having declared in previous years she'd be up for it as long as Fey was on board, "She's our master-in-chief on this one. So, if she's into it, then I'm into it."[76] Bennett then reacted to his co-stars by saying, "I was extremely excited when I heard Rachel [McAdams] say she'd love to play Regina George again because I've talked to over half the cast, including Lindsay [Lohan], and we all feel the same way," continuing, "We'd love to bring these beloved characters back to life at some point, whether it be sequel or a TV series. I think the world would love to see these characters again."[77]


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