Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Mean Girls

One of the best Oscar bloggers on the web, Nathaniel Rogers of The Film Experience (who really deserves more credit than he gets... come on, recently published Gurus of Gold, do the right thing and include Nathaniel!), has a great series ongoing called "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" wherein he invites everyone to pick one shot of a given film (or miniseries, as was the case with Angels in America) and explain why it's the one best shot of that movie.

This next Wednesday's movie of choice is a personal favorite of mine, Mean Girls. It's interesting, though, because as much as the dialogue from Tina Fey's expert script is quoted, the movie isn't one you remember for its visuals. No doubt, it's a phenomenal movie with expert acting (that script wasn't easy to pull off and that cast made it iconic), but it's just not one of it anyone immediately says, "Hey, remember that one shot in Mean Girls...?"

That being said, I skimmed over the screenshots and tried to find an appropriate shot that not only captured the insanely fun spirit of the film but also encapsulated the plot really well.

"See, Gretch? I told you she's not mad at you!"

This shot, which is taken from the first three-way call attack scene, is just after Regina George's duplicity has been revealed to our heroine, Cady Heron. After referring to Gretchen Weiners' need for attention, Cady finds out Gretchen has heard she and Regina's entire conversation, and in this moment, we see the three principal characters more clearly defined than anywhere else.

Let's start with Regina, so perfectly played by Rachel McAdams. She looks completely self-satisfied in this shot, thrilled that her plan has worked to such perfection. Of course, she's done this before: after all, she's Regina George. But Cady is just such a plaything to Regina, so easily corruptible that she can't possibly resist messing with her. When it works so well, she's like a cat that's just trapped a mouse, and she can't keep the grin off her face.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have the consummate follower, Gretchen, portrayed by Lacey Chabert. She's seriously hurt by Cady's suggestion that she's desperate for attention, not even happy she went through with Regina's plan to catch her saying something nasty. That's what's so interesting about Gretchen: she's not actually a mean girl, she just desperately wants to be. But ultimately, stuff like this really hurts her.

And finally, we have Lindsay Lohan, the Better Years, playing Cady, who is still "Africa Cady" as opposed to "Plastic Cady". Her bracelet that Regina makes a crack about is still in full view here, emphasizing her roots and exactly how out of place she is in a situation like this. Cady's face is also extremely telling: she's not exactly hurt or betrayed, she's more like a scientist thrown off by a new observation. What's so fascinating about how Cady is written and portrayed is that she starts like another redheaded heroine, Easy A's Olive Penderghast (played by Emma Stone, cue requisite picture of Emma Stone).


She is at first observing the social phenomena, attempting to remove herself from it slightly. But unlike Olive, who (for the most part) always stays above the fray, Cady gets involved, being approached from all sides by an exciting new lifestyle (notice how she's in the middle of this shot, not on one of the sides--she's surrounded by the Plastic way of things) and she becomes unable to resist. They may be bitchy, yes, but for a high school girl looking to make a name for herself for the first time, they're the ultimate.

And there's my analysis! It was really interesting to see how little I was impacted by the film visually, with all my favorite moments being entirely based on the script. But I did my best--what do you guys think? Any comments? Disagree with my analysis? Hit the comments, but make sure to visit The Film Experience and take a look at the other Hit Me With Your Best Shot submissions next Wednesday (the 20th)!

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