Can you believe it was nine years ago this month that the world was introduced to Cady Heron, Regina George, and Glen Coco (you go, Glen Coco)? Yes, on April 30, 2004, Mean Girls hit theaters and immediately became a cultural touchstone for a whole generation who is still making GIFs of all the action nearly a decade later.
The movie was initially a star vehicle for Lindsay Lohan, whose career was on a rapidly upward trajectory, but a funny thing happened – Mean Girls not only brought her front and center but introduced the world to a crop of actresses who are still claiming the top spots in Hollywood as LiLo continues to crumble. Which of The Plastics now reigns supreme? We looked at the careers of seven women from the film to see who comes out on top. Who "won" Mean girls? It looks like writer Tina Fey.
Here they are in order of who is doing the best based on their subsequent roles, career, and ability to stay out (or in) the tabloids:
Tina Fey: Sure, she was the brains behind the whole operation, but when she wrote this movie, she was just some funny lady from SNL. She had yet to launch 30 Rock, win a slew of Emmys, and do one of the most famous impressions of the 21st century. Movie Roles: Admission, Megamind, Date Night, The Invention of Lying, Ponyo, Baby Mama Movies That Gross More Than $50 Million: Date Night, Baby Mama Flops: Admission TV Roles: 30 Rock, Sarah Palin on SNL TV Shows Produced: 1 Emmy Nominations: 20 Emmy Wins: 6 Arrests: 0 Break Ups: 0 Scandals: Only when Taylor Swift told her she was going to hell Assorted Pluses: Wrote a best-selling book and became a "thinking man's sex symbol." Did a bang-up job co-hosting the Golden Globes with bestie Amy Poehler. Is working on a Mean Girls musical with her husband. How awesome is that! Assorted Minuses: I can't think of one.
Rachel McAdams: 2004 made this Canadian a star when Mean Girls and a little thing called The Notebook launched her. She has more blockbusters than anyone on this list and hardly a flop. If she had the same awards recognition and was spread across as many platforms, she would have beaten Tina Fey. Turns out the nice girls do finish last. Movie Roles: The Vow, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Midnight in Paris, Morning Glory, Sherlock Holmes, Time Traveler's Wife, State of Play, The Lucky Ones, Married Life, The Family Stone, Red Eye, Wedding Crashers, The Notebook Movies That Gross More Than $50 Million: The Vow, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, Midnight in Paris, Time Traveler's Wife, The Family Stone, Red Eye, Wedding Crashers, The Notebook Flops: 0 TV Roles: Rachel McAdams does not do TV... yet. TV Shows Produced: 0 Emmy Nominations: 0 Emmy Wins: 0Arrests: 0 Break Ups: Ryan Gosling, Josh Lucas, Michael Sheen Scandals: 0 Assorted Pluses: Um, she dated Ryan Gosling! She's also great in both comedy, action, and dramatic roles. Assorted Minuses: She has a thing for dating co-stars.
Amanda Seyfried: One of the most sought-after starlets in Hollywood, unfortunately she has about as much smarts as her Mean Girls character when it comes to picking roles. Movie Roles: Lovelace, Les Miserables, Gone, In Time, Red Riding Hood, Letters to Juliet, Dear John, Chloe, Jennifer's Body, Mamma Mia!, Alpha Dog Movies That Gross More Than $50 Million: Les Miserables, Letters to Juliet, Dear John, Mamma Mia! Flops: Gone, In Time, Red Riding Hood, Jennifer's Body TV Roles: Big Love TV Shows Produced: 0 Emmy Nominations: 0 Emmy Wins: 0 Arrests: 0 Break Ups: Dominic Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, Josh Hartnett, some real estate guy Assorted Pluses: According to People she is the fourth most beautiful person in the world. She also has a taxidermy collection, which is cool. Assorted Minuses: Did you see the list of flops? Sadly the movies she stars in are high-profile duds where the ones where she is a supporting cast member do aces.
Amy Poehler: She was always Tina Fey's second fiddle until she got a show of her own that is just as successful. Now if only she could start reaping those awards in the same way.... Movie Roles: A.C.O.D, Monsters Vs. Aliens, Baby Mama, Horton Hears a Who!, Hamlet 2, Blades of Glory, The Ex, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny Movies That Gross More Than $50 Million: Baby Mama, Monsters vs. Aliens, Horton Hears a Who, Blades of Glory Flops: Hamlet 2 TV Roles: Parks and Recreation TV Shows Produced: 1 Emmy Nominations: 9 Emmy Wins: 0 Arrests: 0 Break Ups: Will Arnett Scandals: Again, when Taylor Swift told her she was going to hell, and she had a snappy rejoinder. Assorted Pluses: This award show queen not only killed it at the Golden Globes with Tina Fey, but she orchestrated those Best Actress in a Comedy bits at the Emmys for all those years. Assorted Minuses: She's always funniest with someone else and while she's been in some hits, she has yet to have the big starring vehicle of her own.
Lizzy Caplan: You could barely recognize our gothy Janice Ian today. Not only did she grow up right, but she is one of the most well-respected funny ladies around. If only Hollywood could figure out what to do with the indie star. Movie Roles: 3,2,1...Frankie Go Boom, Bachelorette, Save the Date, 127 Hours, Hot Tub Time Machine, Cloverfield, My Best Friend's Girl Movies That Gross More Than $50 Million: Cloverfield, Hot Tub Time Machine Flops: 0 TV Roles: Masters of Sex, Party Down, True Blood, The Class TV Shows Produced: 0Emmy Nominations: 0 Emmy Wins: 0 Arrests: 0 Break Ups: 0 Scandals: That she's not a bigger star. Assorted Pluses: Between Party Down and Bachelorette she has a huge and devoted cult fan base and tons of street cred. Masters of Sex is getting tons of advance buzz. And she dates Matthew Perry, so that's cool. Let's not forget her killer guest stint on Season 1 of New Girl. Assorted Minuses: If everyone loves her, why can't she make any of her products stick? Also, she was in a Dane Cook movie.
Lindsay Lohan: America's reigning tabloid queen and walking punchline, Lohan has been on an almost decades-long spiral and still hasn't hit rock bottom. Movie Roles: Scary Movie 5, The Canyons, Machete, I Know Who Killed Me, Georgia Rule, Bobby, Just My Luck, Prairie Home Companion, Herbie Fully Loaded Movies That Gross More Than $50 Million: Herbie Fully Loaded Flops: I Know Who Killed Me, Just My Luck TV Roles: Liz & Dick, a guest stint on Ugly Betty that got cut short due to bad behavior, playing herself on Glee, a guest stint with her BFF Charlie Sheen on Anger Managment, and an arc on, of all things, Million Dollar DecoratorTV Shows Produced: 0 Emmy Nominations: 0 Emmy Wins: 0 Arrests: Between the DUIs, the jewelry theft, the probation violations, the court-appointed rehab, the stint working in the morgue, I can't keep any of this straight anymore, but I love her court outfits. Break Ups: Wilmer Valderama, Samantha Ronson Scandals: Do we need to ask? Assorted Pluses: There was a time with Lindsay actually had tons of talent, gold records, a line of leggings, a catchy single ("I'm just a little bossy"), and all the free clothes she could steal from photo shoots. Even now we're still fascinated by her. Still we look at her like a pair of wadded up panties in a gutter, trying to figure out just how they got there and who the heck is going to get them out. Assorted Minuses: If it's not the shopping addiction, bad plastic surgery, friendship with Charlie Sheen, bad Glee guest appearances, the cultural scourge of Liz & Dick, getting publicly fired from a consultancy with Ungaro, the Playboy nude spread, all the nip slips and upskirts, then it's, well, drugs, booze, and rehab. Lohan has blown it all.
Lacey Chabert: This was the Party of Five star's big comeback. It didn't quite work out. Movie Roles: Ghosts of Girlfriends PastMovies That Gross More Than $50 Million: 0 Flops: 0 TV Roles: Are we counting cartoon voiceovers, Christmas movies, and schlocky Lifetime specials, because she has a ton. No, seriously, she's been a voice on like every superhero cartoon you can name. That has to count for something. TV Shows Produced: 0 Emmy Nominations: 0 Emmy Wins: 0 Arrests: She couldn't get arrested in this town. ZING!Break Ups: 0 Scandals: No one is talking about her. Assorted Pluses: She was really good in Mean Girls, you guys. Assorted Minuses: Ugh, Christmas movies.
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At the moment there are few greater clichés in the media than the freaking out single woman on the cusp of 30. Of course clichés are clichés for a reason worth exploring even through the lens of just one or two women as in Lola Versus. Unfortunately while the intention behind Lola Versus isn't that we should all be happily married by the age of 30 it still fits into the same rubric of all those "Why You're Not Married" books.
Lola (Greta Gerwig) has a gorgeous fiancé Luke (Joel Kinnaman) and they live in a giant loft together the kind of dreamy NYC real estate that seems to exist primarily in the movies. Just as they're planning their gluten-free wedding cake with a non-GMO rice milk-based frosting Luke dumps her. It's cruelly sudden — although Luke isn't a cruel man. Lola finds little comfort in the acerbic wit of her best friend the eternally single Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones) who is probably delighted to see her perfectly blonde best friend taken down a peg and into the murky world of New York coupling. Lola and Luke share a best friend Henry (Hamish Linklater) a messy-haired rumpled sweetheart who is kind and safe and the inevitable shelter for Lola's fallout. Her parents well-meaning and well-to-do hippie types feed her kombucha and try to figure out their iPads and give her irrelevant advice.
Lola Versus is slippery. Its tone careens between broad TV comedy and earnest dramedy almost as if Alice is in charge of the dirty zingers and Lola's job is to make supposedly introspective statements. Alice's vulgar non-sequiturs are tossed off without much relish and Lola's dialogue comes off too often as expository and plaintive. We don't need Lola to tell Henry "I'm vulnerable I'm not myself I'm easily persuaded" or "I'm slutty but I'm a good person!" (Which is by the way an asinine statement to make. One might even say she's not even that "slutty " she's just making dumb decisions that hurt those around her just as much as she's hurting herself.)
We know that she's a mess — that's the point of the story! It's not so much that a particularly acerbic woman wouldn't say to her best friend "Find your spirit animal and ride it until its d**k falls off " but that she wouldn't say it in the context of this movie. It's from some other movie over there one where everyone is as snarky and bitter as Alice. You can't have your black-hearted comedy and your introspective yoga classes. Is it really a stride forward for feminism that the clueless single woman has taken the place of the stoner man-child in media today? When Lola tells Luke "I'm taken by myself. I've gotta just do me for a while " it's true. But it doesn't sound true and it doesn't feel true.
In one scene Lola stumbles on the sidewalk and falls to the ground. No one asks her if she's okay or needs help; she simply gets up on her own and goes on her way. It's a moment that has happened to so many people. It's humiliating and so very public but of course you just gotta pick yourself up and get where you're going. In this movie it's a head-smackingly obvious metaphor. In one of the biggest missteps of the movie Jay Pharoah plays a bartender that makes the occasional joke while Lola is waiting tables at her mom's restaurant. His big line at the end is "And I'm your friend who's black!" It would have been better to leave his entire character on the cutting room floor than attempt such a half-hearted wink at the audience.
Lister-Jones and director Daryl Wein co-wrote the screenplay for Lola Versus as they did with 2009's Breaking Upwards. Both films deal with the ins and outs of their own romantic relationship in one way or another. Breaking Upwards a micro-budget indie about a rough patch in their relationship was much more successful in tone and direction. Lola Versus has its seeds in Lister-Jones' experience as a single woman in New York and is a little bit farther removed from their experiences. Lola Versus feels like a wasted opportunity. Relatively speaking there are so few movies getting made with a female writer or co-writer that it almost feels like a betrayal to see such a tone-deaf portrayal of women onscreen. What makes it even more disappointing is how smart and likable everyone involved is and knowing that they could have made a better movie.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.