Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Mean Girls': So Cruel, So Quotable; Dark, Deadpan, Insightful High-School Comedy from a Script by Tina Fey of 'Saturday Night Live'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Mean Girls': So Cruel, So Quotable; Dark, Deadpan, Insightful High-School Comedy from a Script by Tina Fey of 'Saturday Night Live'

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, The Times-Union

We know what you're thinking: Another week, another high school-is-hell comedy.

By now it's become a formula: The outcast kids as heroes. The stuffy teachers. The kind but clueless parents. The visual tour through the various cliques -- the burnouts, the jocks, the math nerds, the rejects, the cheerleaders, etc.

Then there's the money shot: The slo-mo shot of the miniskirted popular girls, sashaying through the school hallways as if they own the place (it just got a workout last weekend in 13 Going on 30).

It's all there in Mean Girls, too.

Perhaps, though, there's a reason for that formula. It's a cliche but, for now at least, it's working -- and in Mean Girls it often works well.

One reason: Mean Girls' screenplay was written by Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey, who's up there with the show's all-time best. She also co-stars as a math teacher, along with SNL vets Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler and Ana Gasteyer as some of the movie's other adults.

The script bears Fey's trademark sardonic wit, which often comes sneaking in from an unexpected direction, delivered with a smart smirk.

Another reason for its success: Mean Girls -- that title was chosen for a specific reason -- has more on its mind than comedy.

It's a fictionalized take on the non-fiction book, Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence.

Fey wants to make a point here about how teens -- particularly girls -- have to make their way through the unwritten rules governing their popularity, their appearance and their self-esteem.

She makes her point, but these Important Life Lessons aren't plopped down with a heavy hand. Instead they's delivered with humor -- quotable, dark, deadpan and sometimes quite absurd.

It goes down easily. …

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