Examining sequels everyone chose to forget or ignore

When I first discovered this movie, I assumed this was one of those “sequels” where they took an unrelated movie and slapped an existing property’s name on it in order to make it more marketable. But then Tim Meadows showed up.

Mean Girls 2 was a TV movie made by ABC Family, I think just so they can have a Mean Girls double feature programming night. I certainly can’t think of another reason why anyone would make it, since it has absolutely nothing new to offer. My only surprise is that, with the way Lindsay Lohan’s career is going, they couldn’t get her to actually star in this.

Tina Fey’s original Mean Girls was an unexpected surprise that is still being quoted regularly on internet forums and even started a meme or two. It’s Election for the younger set, an exploration of high school that’s less about good cliques and bad cliques and more about the competitive culture and how impressionable it is on young girls. This sequel is a little more standard, undoing the originality of the first to deliver the typical screw-you-popular-bitch sentiment.

The film is not so much a sequel as it is a remake, or a : The Next Generation. It’s another story of a loner girl—this time the daughter of a race car engine builder who moves around a lot—just arrived at the same Chicago high school the first movie was set in and butting heads with the resident “plastics.” Fans of the original might remember that Lindsay Lohan’s character created a utopian drama-free high school at the end of the movie, closing with a remark that any freshman plastic girl will be taught how to fall in line with her new “everybody’s equal” paradigm. Looks like she failed.

Unlike Lohan’s homeschooled character, tomboy Jo isn’t ignorant of American high schools, and in fact easily identifies the various cliques and norms on her first day, which takes away that alien POV where Lohan’s audience surrogate character looks at American high school like crazyland.

For everything else, though, Mean Girls 2 keeps the story almost the same beat-by-beat—from Jo becoming shallow herself and betraying her artsy chick best friend, to her pursuing a relationship with a boy close to plastics leader Mandi—minus the dark humor. You won’t see anything like Amy Poehler’s character asking her daughter mid-humping if she and her boyfriend needed any condoms, or the head bitch getting hit by a bus. But you do get 80s movie hijinks like lacing the food at a birthday party with ipecac! Is there any unfunny movie that cannot be saved by a dude puking all over a shrill girl’s pretty dress? The answer is yes. This one.

There’s also a scene that escaped from the network’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager, where Jo has her virginity praised by other girls who wish they had waited.

So yeah, it’s not just a random teen movie capitalizing on the name; it’s an actual attempt to stick to the parameters laid down by the original by recreating it with new characters and less jokes. I’m not sure which is more pathetic. Not helping the case is how the studio actually invited comparison between the two by putting clips from the original in the trailer, in an attempt to… make it seem worse?

The only redeeming part of the movie is the moment where Jo does what everyone thinks these catty teen drama queens should have done in the first place. She marches up to Mandi and says, “I’m sick of the mind games and backstabbing and set-ups!” Then she calls her a bitch and winds up to punch her in the face.

Unfortunately, instead of letting the movie end on a brawl that would have been interesting to see, Tim Meadows stops Jo’s punch and the movie goes into even weirder territory when it suddenly becomes a sports movie in the eleventh hour. Jo challenges Mandi to a game of football, the plastics versus the anti-plastics. Why? “I’m tired of being a girl,” said Jo. “Let’s settle this like men.”

So now you know: it’s not enough to be a mean girl. You’ve got to man up.