Notice: All forms on this website are temporarily down for maintenance. You will not be able to complete a form to request information or a resource. We apologize for any inconvenience and will reactivate the forms as soon as possible.

Content Caution

Mean Girls 2024


In Theaters


Home Release Date




Emily Tsiao

Movie Review

This is a cautionary tale of fear and lust and pride.

Based on actual events where people died.

OK, so nobody actually dies—well, one girl does for 15 seconds, but she’s resuscitated. I digress.

This story is about Cady Heron. She was homeschooled in Africa for most of her life. But when her mom gets a job at a university in the States, they relocate, and Cady gets her first taste of a typical American high school.

Cady quickly realizes that the social ladder of American teenagers isn’t much different from the food chain of the animal kingdom. The less popular are devoured by those with greater social standing. Dating rituals strongly resemble mating rituals. And, of course, there’s an apex predator: Regina George, leader of the Plastics, the school’s most popular but meanest girls.

Cady believes that if she can get on Regina’s good side, high school may not be so bad. But this idea is swiftly shut down as naïve by her new friends, Janis and Damian.

Janis won’t tell Cady precisely why she hates Regina, just that the queen bee is a “scum-sucking life-ruiner.” So when Cady develops a crush on Regina’s ex-boyfriend, Aaron Samuels—a fact that Regina exploits to her advantage—the trio plots to do a little life-ruining of their own.

But just how far is Cady willing to go to be as popular as Regina? And will she stoop to Regina’s level along the way, becoming a mean girl herself?

Positive Elements

Mean Girls is a largely satirical film, and so many elements are grossly exaggerated to show just how ridiculous the character traits it pokes fun at really are. Because of this, many positive aspects need to be taken with a grain of salt. And you should probably ask the question, “Does a story really have to be this extreme to make a point?”

Probably not, but the movie still conveys some good messages: Being mean might make you popular, but at the cost of your integrity. True friends like you for who you are, not who you pretend to be. Tearing another girl down doesn’t make you better than her. And, my personal favorite, losing the “good” opinion of your peers might feel like the end of the world, but it’s not. So rather than morph into something deemed acceptable by the fleeting (and completely arbitrary) rules of teenagedom, be true to yourself.

Cady’s mom initially takes a job in the States because she worries that her focus on her own career has robbed Cady of a normal teenage experience. Later on, Cady finds herself overwhelmed by the mistakes she’s made and the ostracization she faces as a result. But instead of returning Cady to homeschooling, her mom encourages her to push through, reassuring her that there are valuable social skills to be learned from the experience.

Ms. Norberry, one of Cady’s teachers, acts as a mediator when every girl in Cady’s grade begins fighting. She helps them to realize that while they’ve all been victims of mean girls, they’ve also all been mean girls to others. And she urges them to stop tearing each other down and to take responsibility for their actions. Additionally, she encourages Cady’s math talent even after Cady’s actions cause her to be unjustly investigated by police.

Characters apologize for being mean to each other. Teen girls learn to overcome their insecurities. One girl takes the blame for some mean actions to protect her friends.

Spiritual Elements


Sexual Content

If you’ve seen the original Mean Girls that came out in 2004 (or even just heard about it), then it probably won’t shock you to learn that most of the PG-13 content of this film lands in this section.

Parents should note that many of the teenage girls in this film dress provocatively. Most outfits are formfitting and low-cut, emphasizing cleavage. Midriffs and short skirts are common. Bras are often visible, too, and one girl purposely reveals hers because she’s “going for a look.” (We also see some teen boys wrapped in towels when a girl opens the door of the boys’ locker room.)

Additionally, in Regina’s introduction song, she undoes her jacket to reveal cleavage, singing a line about her breasts. (She also sings a line stating that the whole school “humps her leg” like a dog.) Another song, titled “Sexy,” lists all the scandalous costumes adolescent women can wear on Halloween, and we see a teenage girl in each one. The dance number that accompanies this song is very sexual, and one girl flips up her skirt to show off her underwear. As Cady gets pulled into the world of the Plastics, she ditches her modest flannels and hiking boots for high heels and miniskirts.

Sex is constantly on the minds of students at North Shore High. When they’re not talking about it (often through innuendo), then they’re frequently making out in hallways, classrooms and even broom closets. A guy tries to embarrass Cady on her first day by stating he can guess any girl’s bra size if she jumps up and down. (Regina humiliates the boy for being so crass but not before Karen, one of the other Plastics, asks him to guess her size.) One clique is described as “horny,” which is followed by a shot of the whole group kissing. Some characters graphically describe female anatomy.

A teen couple is caught in a compromising position, half-dressed (the boy is in his boxers, and we see the girl’s bra). Another couple barges into a bedroom at a house party, intending to have sex, but they’re turned away since the room is already occupied (though the couple inside is only talking). We hear that Karen has had sex with 11 people, and Regina insults her for this, hurting Karen’s feelings. In one song, Regina puts a guy’s hand on her chest, which he quickly yanks away.

There are myriad LGBT students at North Shore, too. Damian is described as “too gay to function.” When he’s instructed to pick a French name for French class, he lists women’s names instead of men’s, all of which are rejected by his teacher. He goes into the girls’ bathroom on occasion. And he talks about “hetero allyship,” stating that he’ll support Cady’s crush on Aaron. Same sex couples of both genders flirt and dance together. Several students appear to be trans. At a dance, there are some girls wearing suits and some guys wearing dresses. And many of these characters are included in the kissing couplings mentioned above.

When Regina learns that Cady likes Aaron, she starts dating him again, marking what she perceives as her territory. However, Gretchen, another Plastic, reveals that Regina is cheating on Aaron with another boy, and Cady shares this information with Aaron in the hopes that he’ll ditch Regina for herself.

Gretchen is devastated when a guy she’s sort of dating hits on Cady. Later, she spots another girl “crotch-sitting” with him (the boy is sitting on a table with the girl on a bench in front of him, her shoulders between his legs). The Plastics scare the other girl off, and Gretchen takes her place. (Later on, Gretchen dumps him when she realizes that he is just using her and only considers her a standby option if needed.)

Male and female adolescents are unhealthily preoccupied with Regina. Guys want to date her, and girls want to be her. This is perhaps most poignantly demonstrated when sprinklers soak Regina while she poses for Homecoming pictures. A camera focuses on her in slow-motion as she flips her damp hair and moves her hands over her body, which teen boys ogle over. But the water also causes her makeup to run, which other girls in her grade begin to mimic.

We see a list of “safe sex” options written on a whiteboard, including abstinence (which the teacher states is the state-approved method), condoms, pills, vasectomies and IUDs. The teacher of this class is woefully misinformed, first misspelling the word “vasectomy” and later writing “hormones” as “whoremones.” The bathroom pass for this class is also, quite pointedly, a wooden carving of a sperm whale.

Regina’s mother is another problematic adult. She makes several inappropriate comments to the girls, including one about their school district having the “hottest guys.” And later, she poses provocatively with Regina’s date.

When a group of boys perform a rap with inappropriate lyrics (and a dance involving pelvic thrusts) at the school talent show, they’re cut off by the principal. However, when the Plastics come out in revealing Santa outfits shortly after, performing an equally promiscuous dance to a Christmas song, they’re allowed to continue. (Though Cady’s mom is appalled.)

[Spoiler Warning] We hear that Janis came out as gay to Regina when they were in the sixth grade (by putting a rainbow pin on a stuffed animal). Regina was initially supportive. However, she kissed Janis during a game of Spin the Bottle to get a boy’s attention. And after that, she claimed Janis was obsessed with her and started calling her cruel nicknames, demanding that others do the same.

Violent Content

Cady and her mom are terrified when Cady is nearly hit by a speeding school bus. However, another girl is hit later on (which we see), reportedly dying for 15 seconds before she’s resuscitated (offscreen). We see her in a neck brace from that point forward.

Nearly every girl in Cady’s grade participates in a fight when a book of rumors is discovered—in keeping with the film’s high school/animal kingdom comparisons, the teens attack each other like animals would, tackling, ripping at hair, clawing at eyes and even biting.

A girl bumps into Cady while walking into school and then blames Cady for the collision even though she was the one not looking. Cady starts to help Karen climb off a table, but when she gets distracted by the arrival of Aaron, she accidentally lets Karen fall. Karen is accidentally hit in the chest when Gretchen reaches out to block her.

In song, Janis fantasizes about sawing Regina in half for a magic act (which is played out on screen). The lyrics also talk about spreading her entrails on a lawn and putting someone’s head on a pike.

Teenage boys break a valuable vase at a house party.

[Spoiler Warning] We hear a rumor that Janis lit Regina’s backpack on fire because she was jealous of Regina’s boyfriend. We later learn the fire part is true and that Janis was suspended, but it was because of Regina’s bullying, not jealousy.

Crude or Profane Language

There are four uses of the s-word and two implied uses of the f-word (first the word is purposely omitted, then it’s combined with the word “ugly” to form a new word). We also hear about 10 uses of “bitch” and a couple uses each of “a–hole,” “b–tard,” “d–n,” “d–k,” “h—” and “p-ss.” A teacher asks a student to keep things “PG-13” after he swears.

God’s name is misused a dozen times. Someone uses “t-ts” as slang for “awesome.” We hear people called “cow,” “slut” and “turd.”

Janis sings a song telling her classmates to “raise their right fingers,” lifting her middle finger as she does so.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Ms. Norberry calls herself a “pusher,” telling Cady that she won’t stop pushing Cady to excel academically. However, when Cady recounts this to her friends, they say Ms. Norberry must have meant she was a drug pusher. The rumor spreads, some students try to buy drugs from Ms. Norberry (which she doesn’t possess), and we later hear that Ms. Norberry’s house was searched by police as a result.

Teens drink alcohol at a house party. One of the cliques at Cady’s school is called the “Burnouts,” and they all noticeably look high. A girl is rumored to put alcohol in her inhaler, and later a teacher confiscates it when it’s revealed to be true. The principal compares Cady’s last name to an illegal drug. Someone jokes that teachers got “wasted” at a school function they were chaperoning.

Other Negative Elements

In keeping with the title of this film, the girls at North Shore High are mean. Regina and the Plastics repeatedly try to trick Cady into embarrassing herself for their own amusement. (Though ironically, they stop her from joining a math club, since they think it would tarnish her reputation.) They lie, gossip and, most notably, keep a “Burn Book” listing insults about every girl in their grade.

Regina is cruel to her friends as well. Instead of putting in a good word for Cady with Aaron, she decides to keep him for herself. She repeatedly berates Karen and Gretchen, prompting Gretchen to say that anger is Regina’s love language. And when things don’t go Regina’s way, she decides to “watch the world burn” by planting the Burn Book at school for her classmates to find. (When they do, they take pictures of each page with their phones and post them online, causing every girl in their grade to begin fighting.)

Even Janis and Damian, who are supposed to be the nice kids, gossip and name-call relentlessly. They implore Cady to spy on the Plastics solely for the purpose of making fun of them later. And when Regina betrays Cady’s confidence, they sing a song about getting revenge before doing just that. The trio turns sprinklers on Regina when she’s posing for Homecoming pictures. They swap out lard for moisturizer so that her skin breaks out. They trick her into consuming power bars that make her gain weight. And they get her boyfriend and friends to abandon her.

Unfortunately for Janis and Damian, all this bad behavior (both theirs and the Plastics’) influences Cady to act mean too. She betrays her friends for popularity (and says some unkind things to them); and her new attitude, rather than attracting Aaron, turns him away since he doesn’t want to date a clone of Regina.

And while the actions of all these teens are unacceptable, we also learn the “why” behind them. Standing in front of a mirror, the Plastics list their physical flaws. And when Cady realizes they want her to join in, she quickly says she’s “ugly” too. But it goes deeper than that.

In spite of Regina’s cruelty, Gretchen longs for her approval. Cady changes her entire personality to fit in with the Plastics and to attract Aaron. Janis doesn’t want her classmates to think she’s violent. And Regina is deeply insecure about her weight, going to extreme and unhealthy lengths to lose it. They all want to fit in with their peers in one way or another; but because they’re unsure of how to do this, they turn on each other instead.

Janis notes a few double standards between guys and girls—namely that guys are allowed to physically fight as a way of expressing their feelings whereas girls are often expected to just get along. (And she believes that if girls were allowed to fight, they wouldn’t be so mean to each other, ultimately getting over their issues.)

Teenagers are often rude to their parents. (Regina says she forced her parents to give her the master bedroom of their house.) People lie. A girl gaslights her ex-boyfriend, pretending to be the victim. Janis and the school principal both purposely mispronounce Cady’s name. A teacher accuses Cady of stealing jobs from teachers since she was homeschooled (though the teacher is joking, Cady becomes noticeably uncomfortable after being called out on her first day). Someone gambles.

A student blocks Cady from sitting at a desk in class, forcing her to sit on the floor instead. During lunch on her first day, many more students prevent her from joining their tables, and Cady eats her lunch in a bathroom stall as a result.

In one dance number, students pretend to be animals, a demonstration of how high school can be like the jungle. In this song, several boys kneel and sniff each other’s rear ends like dogs.

A teen girl laughs that her friend hasn’t had a bowel movement in two weeks. Janis makes a crude comment about feces.

Karen says that if she could have one wish, it would be to make every day Halloween (though she later changes it to world peace).


When Mean Girls first came out in 2004, it was a cultural phenomenon. Perhaps it was the quotability. Perhaps it was the film’s all-star cast (Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey all starred in the original). But maybe, it was just the fact that it epitomized what it was like to deal with mean girls in high school—satirized as that phenomenon was.

If you ask me, this remake—based on the Broadway musical that first premiered in 2018—has the potential to be another cultural touchstone.

There are some things that got better: this film removed the storyline involving two student-teacher affairs; it changed some of the crueler insults and objectifying statements; and it humanized Regina George, showing that her incessant bullying was a product of her own insecurities.

But there are some things that got worse, too: the LGBT content has been widely amped up in this version; the deeper messages about how adolescents should treat each other were a bit watered down; and honestly, with the exception of Reneé Rapp as Regina George, the acting just wasn’t as strong.

Of course, these subtle differences probably won’t affect most parents’ decisions regarding the suitability of the film. The movie can be quite crass, there’s a lot of foul language, and it hyper-sexualizes teenage girls.

Speaking of which, it’s important for families to note that the actresses portraying these characters aren’t teenagers at all. Most of them, like the original, are in their 20s. And despite the fact that the film takes a body-positive position with more diverse casting and a storyline that highlights insecurities many girls feel, the beautiful women chosen to portray these 16- and 17-year-olds don’t represent what teenagers actually look like. And that can be damaging in and of itself.

So, I’ll conclude with this: if you haven’t allowed your teenager to see the original Mean Girls, then you probably shouldn’t allow her to see this remake either. If she has seen it, then you may want to discuss some of the problems noted throughout this review to help her grasp a better understanding of how problematic mean girls—and Mean Girls—can be.

The Plugged In Show logo
Elevate family time with our parent-friendly entertainment reviews! The Plugged In Podcast has in-depth conversations on the latest movies, video games, social media and more.
Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.