Thursday, 16 April 2015

Mean Girls Script Breakdown

Dir- Mark Waters
Year – 2004
Running Time – 94 Minutes
Screen writing Genre –Rites of Passage (Adolescent)

The Film

Not the most complex of films, Mean Girls gives some young talent a chance to impress with some great comedic performances. It captures the spirit of American High School well and is both fast paced and well structured.

What’s in a name?

A fairly straight forward one here. Means Girls not only refers to the three main plastics but also the idea that all girls can be mean to each other.

What makes it great?

The key strength of the film is a smart and pacey script which moves along well. The film is structured excellently and hits all the beats pretty much spot on. It’s a great example of a simple premise raised up a level by the performances and writing.

Mean Girls as an (Adolescent) Rites of Passage Movie

I was toying with that as an ‘Institutionalised’ movie but really it’s the story of Cady’s emotional growth from being a ‘child’ to a more mature and wise teen (if that’s possible). We see her struggles and the ‘wrong way’ she chooses to undertake her passage. By the end of the film she has accepted certain things about herself and worked out the puzzle of high school. By the end of the film she has successfully moved from child to a more adult state and is rewarded with a relationship.

Time Line

Opening Image – We start with camera making it look like parents talking to a child going for her first day at school. It is revealed that it is in fact Cady who is going to a ‘real’ school for the first time. She is emotionally green and naïve.

Theme Stated – We see Cady eating lunch in the toilets on her own and various different factions around the college. Our theme is about the question of fitting in. How do you do it? And what should you compromise?

Set-Up – Throughout this section we get the different elements of the school set up. We see all the different factions and are introduced to the ‘plastics’. We see Cady starts as a social outcast.

Catalyst – When Cady chooses to sit at the ‘plastics’ table she has decided to start the journey to a new world.

Debate – Cady debates what to do. Should she have lunch with the plastics? Should she spy on them for her other friends?

Break into Two – When Cady lets slip a comment about one of her friends that ends up in the Burn Book there is no going back and we have moved into the upside down world of high school politics.

B Story – Our love story is fairly straight forward as Cady begins to fall for Regina’s ex-boyfriend Aaron. Here Cady begins to change herself (such as faking being dumb) to make Aaron notice her and to place her within his vicinity. She will realise this is not a good idea by the end of the film.

Fun and Games – The full on high school life kicks in. The plastics act out various bitchy plans, there are parties and Cady starts plotting after Regina tricks her about Aaron. We even have a talent show.

Midpoint – Things begin to escalate but the real serious moment which stops all the fun is when Cady blurts out to Aaron that Regina is cheating on him dead on minute 46.

Bad Guys Close In – The bad guys in this case are actually Cady herself. She begins to lose herself in the role of a plastic and becomes meaner and meaner. She eventually takes over the role of Queen Bee of the plastics.

All is Lost – Cady’s own party signals her downfall. She throws up on Aaron, her real friends disown her and Regina sets a trap with the Burn Book that throws the entire school into chaos.

(incidentally there's a nice line at Cady's party - when Aaron says to her "I've been looking everywhere for you" she replies "Yeah, me too" which highlights her inner journey and confusion about who she is).

Dark Night of the Soul – Cady realises she has lost herself and through a long scene in the gym all the girls begin to recover themselves. Cady is now all alone.

Break into Three – Cady returns to school and is now the outcast and along again – but this time for very different reasons.

Finale – Cady recovers herself, apologises and begins to rebuild bridges. She wins the Mathletes title and attends the school dance wearing her medal. When she wins Queen of the dance she completes her recovery by breaking the plastic tiara and handing it out to everyone.

Final image – Cady gets the guy and has fully returned to being herself. She is now wiser and more mature and the rest of the girls have evolved as well. At least most of them have.

No comments:

Post a Comment