Saturday, 17 May 2014

Netflix Anomalies: Mean Girls 2

Mean Girls 2 film poster
It tried so hard.
First order of business - I have officially been welcomed aboard the writing team of The Pop Culture Cynic in a permanent writing post; wahey! I'll be uploading on Saturdays and I look forward to a future of reviewing, ranting and general pop culture-y goodness. Let us rejoice with this picture of me and Ben dancing together the first time we met and celebrate how far we've come.

Rhona and Ben party dancing
We're both wearing red converses - fate, I tells yah, fate!
Now, on to the second order of business - I'm going to start a series called Netflix Anomalies (as you may have figured from the title of this post) exploring and reviewing some of the more questionable works of film and television that can be found on one of the most glorious, procrastination enabling, life destroying sites of all time - Netflix!

I've just watched Mean Girls 2 and I have some thoughts. Let's discuss, shall we?

I literally finished watching this film about ten minutes ago and in the space it took me to decide I would write about this film for this post, go into my room to retrieve my laptop, go back into the living room, sit down and load the new post page on blogger, I had already forgotten all of the characters' names, which strikes me as a problem. So instead of calling the characters by their actual names, I'll just call them the name of the character they're trying to be, but failing badly at it. I've also forgotten many of the plot points and any of the logic supporting the actions of the characters. This film is not memorable in the slightest, so I'd better write this fast before I forget I even watched it in the first place.

So the film takes place in the same Northshore High School as Mean Girls with the same Principle, Mr. Duvall (Tim Meadows). That is all that carries on from Mean Girls to Mean Girls 2. The name of the high school and one returning actor. The movie does try to pay homage to the original film, but instead of making me laugh and think "Oh how clever!", it just reminded me of how good a film Mean Girls is and made me question what I was doing wasting my time with this tripe. From the depths of my heart, I was hoping desperately for a minor cameo from some of the cast (Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfriend, Lacey Chabert, Tina Fey, Lizzie Caplan, Daniel Franzese. Anyone, please!) but alas, my dreams were dashed like a schoolgirl on the front bumper of a bus. According to the trivia section of IMDb, Tina Fey was offered various times by Paramount to write the sequel but she turned them down - for this I am thankful, as I would have been awfully disappointed if her name has been attached to this horrendous project. However, I am curious to see how it would have turned out if she had decided to pen this script - infinitely better I assume, but that's not saying much. 
Mean Girls 2 film screenshot
Finding screen caps for this film is hard, no-one has watched it.
So where Mean Girls and its sequel differs (and it differs a lot) is that Mean Girls managed to portray high school in a way that its audience would be able to relate to, as a jungle, whilst being funny and having interesting characters that, again, the audience have encountered in real life. The numerous cliques that high school houses are all accounted for (the popular people, the weirdos, the sporty group, the drama geeks, etc), but in Mean Girls 2, we are presented with: Not-Regina, Not-Gretchen and Not-Karen. Not-Regina is mad with power to the point of insanity, Not-Karen is so dumb that she should be sectioned and Not-Gretchen is the most non-existent character in this film (which is saying something).

I was surprised by the plot that the movie decided to go down. I had predicted that it would follow the exact same formula that the first film structured: Not-Kady arrives at the school (a spunky underdog that wears leather trousers and rides a Vespa) and is groomed by the Plastics, telling her who she should and shouldn't hang out with. Cue the plot we've all seen. Instead, Not-Kady rejects the plastics and goes to befriend Not-Janis. Thus the "new" (a word I'm using veeeery loosely, as I've seen this plot a thousand times) plot takes root. She gives Not-Janis a ride home after a confusing incident with her car that the school wrecks for some reason because Not-Regina gave the order because Not-Regina hates Not-Janis for inexplicable reasons. When Not-Kady arrives at Not-Janis' house, Not-Janis' father decides to pay Not-Kady to be her friend (despite the fact that she was already in the process of becoming her friend?) and Not-Kady accepts cause her single dad family are poor and she wants to go to a fancy college. You can all guess where this particular plot point goes.   

Mean Girls 2 quotes someecards
Pretty much spot on.
The plastics then begin to terrorise Not-Kady and Not-Janis for reasons that are lost to me and the rest of civilised society. Unless you couldn't tell, this movie doesn't make one lick of sense. This is also a turning point in the film cause it completely goes off the rails. Where Mean Girls depicted characters in a realistic way and their mean-ness was within reason, Mean Girls 2 goes bat-shit crazy. Not-Regina is shown to knowingly try and poison people twice within the film, actively ruin Not-Kady's fathers career, destroy Not-Kady's chances of getting into college, bin a bag that has a dog in it, commit breaking and entering and so on and so forth in that fashion. It goes far beyond the harmless antics we would expect from high school teens and well into "these people should be arrested; let Mr. Manson out to make room". There's also a scene where Not-Kady and Hot Guy go on a date, but Not-Regina is recording them and broadcasts to the entire school that Not-Kady hadn't had a boyfriend before and was subsequently a virgin. The school reacts like this is the funniest thing in the world, Not-Kady is humiliated by the school knowing this and is bullied mercilessly. But this baffles me because I'm pretty sure these characters are meant to be about fourteen years old. My knowledge of the American High School system isn't exactly stunning, but I'm pretty sure it says at the start of the film that they're Freshmans, which, according to Google, makes their ages between fourteen and fifteen. 

Mean Girls 2 film gif football
The movie climaxes with a truly contrived game of football between the Plastics and the Anti-Plastics. My friend actually turned to me whilst the two teams were preparing themselves for the game and asked me, "What's at stake here? What happens if they win or if they lose?" and I genuinely couldn't answer her. I had no idea what the consequences were either way. I'm sure you can all guess which team wins.

Something that really bothered me about this film is that it undid a lot of the work of the first film. It takes the message of Mean Girls (like the scene where Tina Fey's character explains that "Girls need to stop calling each other sluts and whores, otherwise it makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores"; it's good to feel good about yourself, it's okay to cut toxic people out your life, etc.) and shits all over it. Mean Girls 2 totally demonises women. Not-Kady constantly makes references to how "she's not like most girls" (because being like most girls is the worst thing in the world), and she says "screw being a lady and screw being a girl, let's settle this like men!" (because women can't settle things properly, the only way to settle something that is serious is to do so like a man (also, women can't play football?)). Quite a few other things along these lines occurs and it is present throughout the movie. This undertone of association with feminine things equals bad made me feel pretty uncomfortable.

Mean Girls 2 meme
Preach, sistah.
The editing was also the worst mish-mash of nonsensical artistic choices. The transitions between scenes are awkward, the editing is abrupt and it does that thing where a photo/video of a character is presented but it's clearly just a screen-cap from a previous scene in the movie. That's distracting and annoying.

To wrap things up I'll end on this note; Mean Girls 2 is awful. Truly awful. But, if you're tired of watching The Room or Birdemic (two films that you can only watch so many times in your life before wanting to crawl into a hole and die) for a terrible movie night, stick this one on. I've even got a drinking game for all you faithful readers:
- Drink whenever something doesn't make sense
- Drink whenever a transition between one scene to the next is awkward/weirdly done
- Drink whenever a character does something way out of line/completely unrealistic
- Drink whenever you wish you were watching Mean Girls instead of this film
- Drink to forget


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