Mean Girls: Special Collector's Edition

Smart, pretty 16-year-old Cady (Lindsay Lohan) and her parents have moved back to the states after living in Africa for all her life. Now Cady must enter the true savage wastelands of your typical public high school. Not knowing how to navigate this oppresive landscape, she is at first treated as an outcast. Two other outcasts, the semi-goth Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and the very gay Damian (Daniel Franzese), immediately adopt her as one of their own. Her prettiness has not gone unnoticed, however. The Plastics - Queen Bitch Regina (Rachel McAdams), insecure Gretchen (Lacey Chabert), and sub-IQ Karen (Amanda Seyfried) - invite her to sit at their table to sound her out. Her outcast friends encourage Cady to do so, so they can spy on and perhaps even invoke some kind of sabotage or revenge on the most popular (and thus most hated) girls in high school. Frederich Nietzsche once pointed out: if you go hunting monsters you have to be careful in the process not to become one yourself. Cady is attracted to and pulled into the Plastic's little clique. She also does stupid things like act dumb in math class to attract a boy, and declares war on that boy's girlfriend who just happens to be the leader of the Plastics. Hilarity (and I do mean it was actually pretty funny) and plenty of meaness does ensue. It manages to be somewhat gentle while exploring the backbiting culture of high school girls. Kind of a feel-good Heathers lite, and I'm betting I'm not the first person to say that.

Did I just quote Nietzsche in a review of a Lindsay Lohan movie?

Like many people, I saw the name 'Lorne Michaels' as producer in the credits and emitted a long groan of despair. However despite all the "Saturday Night Live" alumni in the credits, I was happily surprised by how watchable this movie is. I have never seen Lindsey Lohan before (hey, I'm old. Keeping up with what's in gets harder and harder. I still don't know what the hell "fo shizzle" means). During one of the featurettes it was mentioned that she had starred in remakes of Parent Trap and Freaky Friday. Brave woman, walking in the shadows of goddesses Hayley Mills and Jodie Foster. She actually does a pretty good job in this movie. For that matter, despite not having the most well-rounded characters, the casting of the movie was pitch-perfect. I'm giving the DVD itself relatively high marks for a special reason: the only DVD out there of this movie is this "Special Collector's Edition". It contains all of the things that have become pro forma for a collector's edition, and I'm being nice with the rating because the distributors didn't try to rook impatient people by first releasing a "Plain Jane" edition then waiting six months to release this one. I realize this doesn't preclude a "Hyper Gargantuan Edition" from being released in the near future.

First the DVD itself: The transfer is good; both the picture and sound are fine, if nothing to write home about. The one commentary track features director Mark Waters, writer/actor Tina Fey and producer Lorne Michaels. I have said it before, that the best commentaries are about movies that are labors of love and they are obviously pleased with themselves about this project; it was fairly listenable but there's too much "ooh, I loved that bit" instead of giving interesting background info. Still it's always fun to listen to Lorne Michaels speak because of that 'Dr. Evil' connection.

Other features include a blooper reel that primarily shows people flubbing lines and giggling about it. Yawn. I do like the deleted scenes though; most are funny bits that were cut for time purposes. The featurettes are fairly interesting: one about the movie itself - predominantly the casting choices (sort of redundant considering they talk about this in the commentary track), and a really good one about the inspiration for this movie, the book 'Queen Bees and Wannabes' which is actually a non-fiction high school survival guide for teenage girls. Tina Fey and the author Rosalind Wiseman talk about the high school backstabbing culture and mean girls in reality. Fascinating stuff if you ever survived high school, or even ever said a mean thing about someone else behind their back (Not me, I'm a saint). All the seriousness of this feature is kind of negated by an equally long featurette concerning the fashion designs. I found it boring, but then again I'm a nerd and wear tee-shirts and blue jeans to work. I can see that subject being fascinating to a high school girl and considering that's the target audience, it is a good feature to include.

Just an aside here; I watched this movie with my husband (I thought he would never forgive me after subjecting him to Purple Rain) and he agreed with me: Lindsay looked her best when, at the beginning of the movie, her clothes looked plain and her hair was pulled back in a ponytail. I was amused that during the film commentary everyone agreed with us. Maybe it was deliberate, but she looked, well, all shiny and plastic when she went for the hottie look later on in the movie. Big hint Lindsay: don't be in such a damn hurry to grow up. Trust me, it's going to happen quicker than you'd like.

To sum up, this seems to me to be a DVD done right for an entertaining, inconsequential movie. It has plenty of features for perusal if that's your thing, or you can just ignore them and watch the movie to your heart's content. I am amused by the inclusion of a miniature 'Burn Book' notebook in the packaging. A 'Burn Book' in the movie's context is a notebook where photos of fellow students are pasted on pages and nasty comments are written around them. The whole point of this movie was that this kind of behavior is not good; so why throw something in there to encourage it? I am impressed with the sheer genius of their marketing department.