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(As can probably be inffered, the author currently lacks all four)
Mean Girls (2004)
Best Teen Movie since 'Clueless'?
I have to admit that despite being a straight, 22 year old guy I have always had a weakness for teen films so I was looking forward to Lindsay Lohan's (who really impressed me in 'Freaky Friday' and the much underrated 'Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen') latest.
It exceeded my expectations.
Lindsay is on great form, instantly likable as Cady and believable both as a regular girl and a "regulation hottie". This girl is one of the best comic actresses of her generation and has created a fully rounded character it is difficult not to root for. Not that she carries the film alone.
Of the adults Tim Meadows does sterling work in translating his character with relatively few lines. Neil Flynn (familiar as the Janitor from 'Scrubs') is even better with some great facial expressions as a father as much at sea in suburban America as his daughter. As for Tina Fey... a terrific performance of course and she is still as cute as she was on Saturday Night Live but where she really shines is in the screenplay which sounds real enough (at least for a teen film) and has some razor sharp areas (like Coach Carr's 'lessons').
Of course the key group is the titular Mean Girls themselves - Regina (Rachel McAdams), Gretchen (Lacey Chabert) and Karen (Amanda Seyfried). Rachel McAdams creates a memorable High School tyrant, malicous, power mad and cruel but not entirely virtue free. She'd screw you over in a heartbeat if you stepped on her turf, but the nonthreatening Gretchen is allowed some reward for loyalty. Gretchen herself, played by the delectable Lacey Chabert is a character of her own, not just a cardboard minion to follow orders. Neurotic, shallow, desperate, beautiful, loyal and rather uncertain she is perhaps the saddest and most sympathetic of the Plastics - a girl who certainly has the looks and money to make it to the top of the pyramid but who lacked the will or the certainty. Not a problem with Karen (Amanda Seyfried) who has an admirable certainty of herself and her abilities. In one of the films best lines after a telling off from Regina, Cady tries to comfort her:
Cady: You're not stupid, Karen.
To which Karen replies thoughtfully (without a hint of bitterness or anger):
Karen: No, I am, actually. I'm failing everything.
Indeed she is. Karen is an airhead, and if not actively proud of it, at least accepting. She doesn't seem cruel herself, possibly because she is simply too shallow and dense, but she doesn't seem a bad person. Which for the second minion (Gretchen outranks her) to the villainous is quite a remarkable achievement.
Finally I must mention Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Franzese as Janice and Damian respectively, the outsiders we are rooting for, in theory. They do good work, though I found them slightly dry next to the endlessly dysfunctional Plastics (though that may be something to do with me finding Lacey Chabert much more attractive than Daniel Franzese!)
Overall a very good piece of work from all concerned. If you like teen movies then you'll find this a very good one. If you don't, well hold your nose and try it anyway, you might be pleasantly surprised!
Veronica Guerin (2003)
Depressing but gripping
Being a Dub I can just about remember these events - though I was 14 when Veronica Guerin was killed I can recall the stir. It was a little strange seeing the old pre-Tiger, pre-multicultural Dublin up there. Difficult to believe it was only seven years ago.
Very good acting overall, especially by Ms Blanchett mastering the accent, who looks creepily like the real Veronica. Well recommended.