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"Mean Girls" Blu-ray Review

Amy Winehouse was found dead today, to the surprise of absolutely no one. After her critical and commercial success with her Grammy-winning debut, she descended into a tabloid fodder hell of drugs, booze and reckless self-destruction. Glimmers that she'd pulled herself together always proved illusory. Now she's gone and will probably be remembered for everything but her original talent.

This prompted me to finally pop in the Blu-ray of Mean Girls I'd picked up for a few bucks a couple of months back. I haven't seen it since it was in theaters in 2004 and already had an unwatched DVD lying around.

Lindsay Lohan has had a rather tragic, albeit not Winehouse-grade awful, career self-immolation path since Mean Girls blew her up as the Hot New Thang. Whether it was getting bombed in the Gossip Girl clubs of NYC, hanging with Paris Hilton in a toxic frenemy relationship, to being a lesbian with DJ Samantha Ronson (who had a tune on the soundtrack), to various run-ins with the law and getting dropped from movies that were meant to reignite her career, Lindsay has been in the words of the Lit song her own worst enemy.

Watching Mean Girls now is interesting because in the ensuing several years, much of the cast has gone on to interesting careers:

• Writer/co-star Tina Fey was still on SNL when this came out and she then left to create 30 Rock, the show that was supposed to be the poor doomed runt sibling to Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. (While 30 Rock is heading into its sixth season, Studio 60 got Old Yellered before the first was done airing.) It's striking to see how many stock 30 Rock tics like rapid cutaways to illustrate past events are evidenced here. That's the way Tina writes.

• Rachel McAdams (the evil queen bee here) went on to The Notebook and tons of rom-coms.

• Amanda Seyfried (as the sweet but dumb-as-dirt one who thought she had "a fifth ESPN") was the doomed Lily Kane in the first season of Veronica Mars and then took her awesome rack to the big screen.

• Almost unrecognizable Lizzy Caplan - so snarky and hot in Cloverfield and True Blood - was a chubby, sarcastic goth here.

• Lacey Chabert has never gotten her career going, typecast as the hot girl with big boobs, not that that's a bad thing, but she's like a less-successful Jennifer Love Hewitt.

And then there's Lindsay. Sigh. She wore these outfits in the movie:

When stardom called, she did a GQ spread with pictures like this:

She was a hot cherry bomb being compared to Ann-Margaret. But it just wasn't her looks - if looks were everything, we wouldn't be worried about Megan Fox's career opportunities now - but her talent that makes her career and life slides so sad. Having done impressively in the dual roles of the remake of The Parent Trap when she was 11 (Hayley Mills was 14 when the original was done) and recreated the Jodie Foster role in the Freaky Friday remake at 16, she was only 17 when she made Mean Girls and to look at her fresh face in the movie now and then look at the hard, bleached-out, skank (harsh, yes) woman she is now, barely past 25 and looking a decade older, it only makes one sadder.

As the fish-out-of-water new girl in school, having been home-schooled by her folks and living in Africa for the past 12 years, she's first earnest before succumbing to the charms of popularity. There's a lot of subtext in her performance which is why hopes for her career were so high. Sure, Herbie Fully Loaded was a speed bump and obviously a result of her Disney ties, but she hasn't made a major movie where she's been more than a sideshow freak, like her body-doubled bit in Machete. Her "big comeback" in the Linda Lovelace biopic seemed more desperate and daring and as her legal problems mounted, she was dumped in favor of Watchmen's Malin Ackerman.

Compounding her problems is the legion of impressive, attractive, and crazy-talented actresses who have arrived in the past few years starting with Emma Stone who with Easy A pretty much declared to Lindsay that "all your career are belong to me!" What Stone did to build to that point was very savvy in that she killed it in a series of supporting roles in films like Superbad, The House Bunny, Zombieland, The Rocker and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (coincidentally directed by Mean Girls' Mark Waters) before taking the spotlight. Now she's got two big movies coming out shortly and is Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man reboot next summer. Lindsay, I think, is making a TV movie about John Gotti. People adore Emma's geeky awkwardness on and offscreen - she's basically if Lindsay had stayed true to her 17-year-old self and didn't compete with her mother for Party Whore of the Year awards. (Again, harsh, but...)

How is a mess-up like Lindsay supposed to compete for roles when, in addition to her co-stars from Mean Girls, she has to fight Jennifer Lawrence, Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning and various CW network actresses. What producer is going to stake a movie that costs tens of millions of dollars on an actress who hasn't made a positive impression in the media or onscreen for seven very long years?

Can Lindsay resurrect her career and recapture her skills? Perhaps. Does anyone really remember Drew Barrymore's wild grade school drunk days? Hasn't Robert Downey Jr. had a remarkable run since he cleaned up his act? (Fun fact: He was paid less than Terrance Howard for Iron Man and the studio didn't even want his washed-up, ex-druggie, ex-con ass in the role; Jon Favreau had to fight for him.) Whether Lindsay can pull a rabbit out of someplace will be a neat trick to see. Until then, we still have her at her luscious best in Mean Girls.

As a Blu-ray, it's an OK release. The transfer is clear, though there are some trouble spots of noise in a couple of sections. The audio track is all front side - it's one of those non-surrounding surround tracks than make me wonder if something's wrong with my receiver. I haven't listened to the commentary, but there's a short blooper reel and some odds and ends that comprise the lean extras.

Score: 8/10. Buy it cheap.


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