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Mean Girls 2 DVD Review

Mean Girls 2 (2011) DVD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Mean Girls 2
Movie & DVD Details

Director: Melanie Mayron / Writers: Cliff Ruby, Elana Lesser, Allison Schroeder / Songs List

Cast: Meaghan Martin (Jo Mitchell), Maiara Walsh (Mandi Weatherly), Jennifer Stone (Abby Hanover), Nicole Gale Anderson (Hope Plotkin), Claire Holt (Chastity Meyer), Diego Boneta (Tyler Adams), Linden Ashby (Rod Mitchell), Rhoda Griffis (Ilene Hanover), Mike Pniewski (Mr. Giamatti), Patrick Johnson (Nick "Big Z" Zimmer), Colin Dennard (Elliot Gold), Tim Meadows (Principal Ron Duvall), Donn Lamkin (Sidney Hanover), Bethany Anne Lund (Quinn Shinn), Amber Wallace (Violet), Juliet Kim (Ling), Willie Larson (May), Dan Coleman (Mr. Winkle), Autumn Dial (Karate Girl), 'Lil' Bit (Coco Chanel)

Original Airdate: January 23, 2011 / Running Time: 97 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish, Portuguese)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled and Captioned
DVD Release Date: February 1, 2011 / Suggested Retail Price: $22.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase

Buy Mean Girls 2 from Amazon.com: DVD Video on Demand / Buy the original Mean Girls: DVD Blu-ray


The 2004 high school comedy Mean Girls can be called a success by any standard. It received overwhelmingly favorable reviews. It grossed back its production budget five times domestically and seven times worldwide.
It launched (Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried) and advanced (Tina Fey, Lindsay Lohan) careers. Perhaps most importantly, people simply seem to know and like it. Such a warm reception eludes most films and nearly all that have been made for and by "Saturday Night Live" types.

Despite that goodwill or perhaps because of it, the arrival of Mean Girls 2 seems to merit trepidation. If anyone wanted to see a sequel to the movie, they wanted to see it back around 2006 at the latest. Being just 24, Lindsay Lohan might have been able to pull off college, if not high school, if she wasn't dealing with a variety of news-making personal and legal problems. Her on-screen classmates, now in their late 20s and early 30s, might have stretched plausibility. But looking the parts is not a concern for Mean Girls 2 because, with the passing of seven years, this sequel has taken the obvious route of writing and casting new characters.

That design is in line with Paramount's direct-to-video sequel plan, announced in August of 2008. Take a strong-selling title, add a number or subtitle and tell a similar story in a similar way. That has seemed to work well for Universal, who has gotten video franchises out of American Pie and Bring It On long after their original stars had moved on. Paramount's first two DTV sequels -- Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling and Road Trip: Beer Pong -- followed movies that were enjoyed but not quite celebrated. To avoid scorn, Mean Girls 2, which airs Sunday on ABC Family and comes to DVD nine days later, seems to have a little bit more to live up to.

From the looks of it, nothing about Mean Girls 2 seems to say anything but cost-effective cash-in on a respected brand name. Its top writers are Cliff Ruby and Elana Lesser, the team behind most of those terrible-looking annual Barbie movies and other unpromising DTV animation (Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure). The third scribe, Allison Schroeder, has a single "90210" episode to her name. Director Melanie Mayron, a former actress, has twenty years of behind-the-camera experience, nearly all of it in TV series and movies. The original Mean Girls may have had only two actor names above or alongside its title, but that is two more than this one has. If you recognize any of the faces on front or names on back of the Mean Girls 2 case, you likely do so from watching Disney Channel, where three of the young actresses have had some of their widest exposure.

Having surveyed the talent employed here, you must enter Mean Girls 2 with modest expectations, as in you don't think this will be better than the first movie but there is a distinct possibility that it could best the last two hours of basic cable you just watched.

North Shore High's new senior Jo Mitchell (Meaghan Martin) is a tough girl, or so we're told. The nasty new crop of Plastics consists of Chastity (Claire Holt), Mandi (Maiara Walsh), and Hope (Nicole Gale Anderson).

As much of a remake as a sequel, Mean Girls 2 follows a new student into North Shore High School. Jo Mitchell (Meaghan Martin, Camp Rock) has bounced from school to school, moving with her widowed father (Linden Ashby) wherever his race car engine work takes him. Finishing her senior year at North Shore is all that stands between Jo and the next phase of her life. She has her heart set on studying architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, the alma mater of her long-dead mother.

Because she is new, attractive, and self-confident, Jo turns up on the radars of the Plastics, the three popular girls who run the school, socially speaking. Trendy, vindictive queen bee Mandi (Maiara Walsh, "Desperate Housewives") views the transfer student as a threat, and by extension so do Mandi's tagalongs, germaphobe Hope (Nicole Anderson) and blonde airhead Chastity (Claire Holt).

Jo happens to befriend Abby (Jennifer Stone, "Wizards of Waverly Place"), a lonely artistic girl who is the Plastics' easy favorite target of terror. Though the seeds of friendship are planted organically, Abby's rich infomercial celebrity father (Donn Lamkin) secretly offers to pay Jo large amounts of money toward her steep Carnegie Mellon tuition and textbooks if she'll remain close to Abby.

Tormented welcoming committee member Abby Hanover (Jennifer Stone) is the first to get doused in food, beverage or byproduct, but almost everyone is hit by the movie's end. Tim Meadows, the one holdover from "Mean Girls" to "Mean Girls 2", reprises his role as North Shore's amusing principal Ron Duvall.

Naturally, this unusual arrangement becomes a bombshell revelation well into the film. It is but one of many convenient coincidences that advance the plot and manufacture tension and conflict. Others surround Jo's blossoming romance with her shop class partner Tyler (Diego Boneta), who it is discovered is the stepbrother of enemy Mandi.
North Shore's oft-passed hallway flatscreen monitor is the go-to venue for embarrassing students visually and aurally.

Shaking up the school's accepted social order, as Jo incidentally does, is a big deal, as have-nots are empowered by Jo's refusal to play by Mandi and the Plastics' rules. Of course, not all of the repercussions are favorable, as the newfound popularity goes to Jo's head and some decent classmates start to get overlooked. The movie comes to a head with its most brazen original idea, a good girls vs. bad girls "powderpuff" flag football game, which arises out of left field and lends a bit of a dogless Air Bud sequel vibe to the proceedings.

Only one actor reprises a role from the original Mean Girls. Logically, Tim Meadows again portrays Principal Duvall, the powerless headmaster who enjoys more screentime here (some of it spent dancing). Though only mildly humorous, he just might be the funniest thing about this sequel. Based on the lifelessness of Meadows' post-"SNL" career, one can't even feel like he's slumming. He seems happy to be here, the movie seems happy to have him, and I'm happy they have each other.

A date with Tyler (Diego Boneta) provides a night of many firsts for Jo (Meaghan Martin), a fact that becomes public knowledge the next school day. Mandi (Maiara Walsh) is easily threatened, despite her status as queen bee(yotch).

There isn't a great deal to be happy about with regard to Mean Girls 2. At its best, it comes kind of close to having a tone similar to the first movie's. But, by comparison it pales in every single way and on its own merits, it turns over no new leaves. This is a movie that will probably be judged more harshly than usual on account of its title. That is inevitable, because though the movie may play like a typical made-for-TV teen movie, nearly every aspect of it is recycled from its namesake.

Mean Girls 2 lacks effort and skill that goes into a theatrical film. I believe a decent sequel could have been made on the limited TV/DTV resources. It just feels as if these people didn't try very hard, like the whole thing was put together in the time it might take to shoot a couple of "Greek" episodes. The acting is spotty. Martin, who I enjoyed on ABC Family's cancelled "10 Things I Hate About You" TV show, gives the lead role less than it requires. You never buy her supposed tough independent girl vibe and her voiceover narration feels like a temporary track of a second read-through. Jo is likable but, as her nature and transformations really set the pace for the whole movie, the underdeveloped characterization is a constant shortcoming.

No one else in the cast stands out any more than their unfamiliar names do. Some actors fare better than others, but even the best have their moments where a stronger take was needed. Maybe something like this doesn't waste time on multiple takes, instead plowing ahead, aware of deadlines and budgets. Everyone seems saddled by a weak screenplay, which tosses in jokes and morals in a starkly haphazard fashion. That takes some of the onus off the cast; I'm sure they weren't given opportunities to improve the material and leaving it as is, I doubt that Lohan, Seyfried, McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Fey et al. could have made the clunky exchanges more natural or digestible.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Mean Girls 2 is given a practically flawless DVD feature presentation. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is exceptional, boasting clean, detailed video and strong colors. The production values are definitely passable (although a series of too similar party shots suggests subpar film coverage), which is noticed in plentiful set design, nice Georgia location shots, and large supply of modern pop (full track list at the bottom of the review). Aside from the featured music, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is somewhat subdued. Dialogue is always as crisp and immediate as it's meant to be, but there isn't an excess of atmosphere, not that there needs to be.

Maiara Walsh is not playing Regina George, just a comparable queen bee as this split-screen with Rachel McAdams' character illustrates. Jennifer Stone is repeatedly awoken from her couch naps in "Caught in the Act." Spend time "In the Closet with Kitty Boots", as the costume designer talks wardrobe.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

First among the DVD's several featurettes is "Inside the Clique: The Making of Mean Girls 2" (11:36).
This general piece is heavy on cast interviews, learning of the leading actress' appreciation for the original film (which is briefly excerpted), thoughts on getting hit with food/fake vomit and playing football, and experiences with their director Melanie Mayron.

"Caught in the Act" (6:03) gathers silly behind-the-scenes footage shot by the cast on the flip cameras they were supplied with, along with some comments. From disturbed naps to unique talent reveals, the clips offer something candid and different.

"In the Closet with Kitty Boots" (8:00) centers not on hidden homosexuality but the film's costume design done by Englishwoman Ms. Boots. It spends more time on the topic than most will care to, but cast members speak on their character's fashion senses to complement the wardrobe showcasing.

Tim Meadows is given his own interview featurette with classy cards befitting the star of "The Ladies Man." Australian actress Claire Holt gives a thumb up to a cupcake facial in the gag reel. Bullying is no laughing matter, claims the Meaghan Martin PSA accompanying the all-new high school comedy "Mean Girls 2."

"Catching Up with Tim Meadows" (3:30) lives up to its title with an interview of the returning actor spruced up with B-roll material from his scenes.

"High School Yearbook" (3:35) lets the cast, Mayron, and writer Allison Schroeder sound off on which high school clique they fell into (or would have, had they not been home-schooled).

The gag reel (3:24) contains a fairly standard collection of outtakes, concluding with a nice shout-out to Elliott Gould. As in all the other bonus features, the profanity gets bleeped (even words heard in the PG-13 film).

The extras conclude with an unintentionally amusing 25-second Meaghan Martin anti-bullying PSA and a "Previews" reel advertising Dinner for Schmucks, The Romantics, and "Jersey Shore": Season Two. All four items play at disc insertion, in which the PSA follows those three full trailers.

Holding back on the ornamentation, Paramount treats Mean Girls 2 to static, silent, basic menu screens and a standard insert-free black Eco-Box keepcase.

For reasons that are still unclear, the film's climax is a powderpuff football game in which the school's bad girls square off against these good girls: Ying (Juliet Kim), Jo (Meaghan Martin), Abby (Jennifer Stone), Violet (Amber Wallace) and May (Willie Larson).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

For the boost in awareness that its title gives it, Mean Girls 2 must also face higher audience expectations. On those hopes, this slapdash, utterly derivative sequel (even the cover art is a re-creation) will disappoint quite strongly. Placed on a more appropriate playing field of teen-oriented cable television, this movie offends far less. That doesn't mean it's good, just that the "good" the makers were aiming for is far less than the one that writer Tina Fey and director Mark Waters sought on the predecessor. Still, grounded goals only call for so much forgiveness; everyone could have done a better job on this.

Ranging from mildly diverting to barely tolerable, I don't see Mean Girls 2 winning over many people besides young tweens and teens who appreciate the programming that basic cable lobs at them these days. While the DVD offers a near-perfect (uncut and unsanitized) feature presentation and a decent collection of extras, a rental seems less deserved than catching it on TV at some point, which you can start doing this Sunday night.

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Mean Girls 2 Songs List (in order of use): Katy Perry - "Hot N Cold", Team JEM - "Wake Up Call", Transcenders featuring Josef D'Star - "No Stopping", Transcenders - "Nutmeg", SuperSpy - "Favorite Distraction", Transcenders featuring Aimee Allen - "Days Like This", Toby Lightman - "Addicted", Hope featuring Jason Mraz - "Love, Love, Love", Transcenders - "Middle Ground", Iyaz - "So Big", Transcenders featuring Tory Amos - "Body Rock", Matisse - "Better Than Her", Sky Ferreira - "Obsession", The Like - "Walk of Shame", Transcenders - "Clavy", Transcenders - "Ground Level", Transcenders - "Party Plane", Transcenders - "The Chase", Jay Sean - "2012 (It Ain't the End)", A.B. O'Neill - "Mon Cheri", Juliana Joya - "Crazy Good", Kimberly Cole - "I Know"

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Reviewed January 21, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Paramount Famous Productions and Paramount Home Entertainment.
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