For those of us who can remember the days of eating a mall pretzel while clad in the inexplicable combo of Ugg boots, jean miniskirt and a polo shirt (always with several layers of tank tops underneath), you also likely spent many, many hours quoting the film that defined that era: "Mean Girls."
You likely also had (or coveted) a pink Motorola Razr phone to text in T9. Now decades later, you will be glad to know that both the iconic flip phone and high school coming-of-age story survive in the new 2024 musical version of the now-classic 2004 film.
The revised story follows essentially the same plot — Cady Heron (played by Angourie Rice) moves from Africa to the Chicago suburbs and finds herself a fish out of water as she tries to navigate the surprisingly animalistic halls of her new high school.
Cady ends up befriending the school's mean girls — the so-called Plastics — and is convinced by her artsy friends, Janis (Auli'i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey) to plot to take down the queen bee: Regina George (Reneé Rapp).
The new version of the film follows many of the same beats as the original screenplay, though it does feature Janis and Damian as pseudo-narrators, rather than Lindsay Lohan's Cady, who narrated the 2004 movie. Like in the Broadway show, the two occasionally break the fourth wall and address the audience.
The Plastics lackeys — Gretchen (Bebe Wood) and Karen (Avantika) — fall into the same roles as they do in the original film. Gretchen is a busybody who is bad at keeping secrets while Karen is not exactly the brightest crayon in the box.
We (self-identified original "Mean Girls" film experts) watched the film and here are all of the Easter eggs, famous lines and differences we spotted — as well as one exciting special cameo from an original star.
Iconic one-liners make a return
The hilarious turns of phrase from Tina Fey's "Mean Girls" script have embedded themselves into pop culture in the 20 years since the original.
"It became part of my vernacular, every single sound bite,” director Samantha Jayne told the New York Times. "It was in my DNA."
It was in all of our DNAs, Jayne!
Many of those one-liners from the original film made it into the new version, mixed in with musical numbers from the Broadway show.
For example, while introducing Gretchen to newcomer Cady, Damian once again utters, "That's why her hair is so big, it's full of secrets!"
In another familiar moment, Cady reveals her crush on Aaron Samuels (played this time by Christopher Briney) to Karen and Gretchen. The Plastics have a negative reaction and explain that Aaron is Regina's ex. In both versions, Gretchen memorably explains why Cady can't pursue him.
"Irregardless, ex-boyfriends are off limits! That's just like, the rules of feminism!" she says.
There's also the moment when Regina pulls up to the school in her car and yells at Cady. In the original, Regina tells Cady they're going shopping but in the new film, Rapp's Regina simply commands, "Get in, loser." (Teens these days spend less time at the mall than they did in the early aughts.)
Another highlight is Spivey's Damian as Santa handing out candy canes. He flawlessly delivers the line that has lived rent-free in our heads for the past 20 years: "Two for you Glen Coco, you go Glen Coco! And none for Gretchen Wieners, bye!"
But some lines changed for a 2024 audience
The new version of the film has essentially been updated with the times. Of course, social media plays more of a role in the film. It helps spread gossip and leads to Regina’s sort-of cancellation after she wipes out during the Plastics’ Christmas dance performance.
The cafeteria is also no longer divided into racial cliques and Coach Carr (this time played by Jon Hamm) doesn’t have an affair with a student.
Even some of the insults in the Burn Book have changed. For example, Dawn Schweitzer is now called a “horny shrimp” instead of a “fat virgin.”
Fey told the New York Times that she updated the script to reflect changing sensibilities towards what “even Regina would know what wouldn’t fly.”
“She’s going to find a way to inflict pain on people, but she’s not going to get herself in trouble,” Fey told the newspaper. “For example, there’s a joke in the original movie when Janis gets up on the table, and Regina says, ‘Oh my God, it’s her dream come true: diving into a huge pile of girls.’ It was mine and Sam Jayne’s feeling that Regina wouldn’t try that now because she knows the kids around her would be like, ‘That’s homophobic.’”
Fey added that Regina would “know not to be homophobic and hopefully, truly would not be homophobic.”
While it was always portrayed in the original story that Damian is gay — or “too gay to function” as Janis likes to say in both films — the new version actually ends with him dancing at the Spring Fling with a theater boy he’d been flirting with.
Janis, who was accused of being a lesbian with a crush on Regina in the original film, is actually queer in the new film instead of ending up with Kevin G from the Mathletes (who, by the way, performed a slightly updated version of his rap in the new version of the film, don’t worry).
Janis’ backstory also changed. In the 2024 version, Regina had kissed Janis during a game of spin the bottle in middle school and then mocked her for it.
That's so fetch!
"Mean Girls" just wouldn't be the same without Gretchen trying to make "fetch" happen.
In the original, Lacey Chabert's version of the character claims that "fetch" is British slang. However, in the new version, Wood's Gretchen says the phrase is from an "old" movie: 2007's "Juno."
The word memorably comes up again when the Plastics perform at the annual winter talent show. (Notably, in the original film, the girls dance to the hit classic "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," but in the new version, they dance to a song titled "Rockin' Around the Pole.")
Just before they go on to perform in both versions, Regina yells at Gretchen, "Stop trying to make fetch happen!"
Principal Duvall and Miss Norbury
"Saturday Night Live" alum Tim Meadows plays Principal Duvall of North Shore High School in both films. In the 2004 version, he seems to hit on fellow "SNL" star Tina Fey's character, the newly-divorced Ms Norbury.
But in the new film, it's revealed that Duvall and Norbury are in a relationship. At one point in the musical version, Norbury tells Duvall she loves him and convinces her to do him a favor in exchange for taking care of their dogs.
There's other subtle differences in how Duvall and Norbury are portrayed in the 2024 film. In the original, Duvall has his arm in a splint as he tells Norbury his carpal tunnel came back over the summer. In the new film, Duvall is still wearing a splint but doesn't seem to explain why (at least, not that we caught!)
Another Easter egg is revealed in Duvall's office as he reads the Burn Book. Behind his desk — amid a gallery wall of diplomas, awards and generic art — is a photo of himself in the original film.
Duvall seems to have gotten an additional diploma in the years since the original film came out. In the new version, as all the junior girls are fighting in the hallways about the Burn Book, he pulls the fire alarm and yells that "I did not get a master's degree for this!" His original line in 2004 was, "Hell nah, I did not leave the South Side for this!"
The new film is not meant to be a sequel, per se, but it does seem that Fey (who penned both the original and new versions) wanted her character to have a happy ending. In an interview with TODAY, Fey joked that the film lives in the "Mean Girls Universe."
That said, neither Duvall nor Norbury ever acknowledges in the latest film that they'd previously dealt with a nearly identical Burn Book two decades earlier.
The Burn Book
The Burn Book lives in on the modern version, naturally, though the girls explain that they made the physical book during a "time they took our phones away."
Later, when Regina spreads the news of the book to the rest of the school, instead of making physical paper copies, she just leaves the book itself in the hallway, trusting that students will take photos with their phones to send to their friends.
Regina is still very wealthy in the new version of the film though her parents' pad has been upgraded to a more New Age glass house instead of the original's McMansion. She's also still made her parents trade her rooms so she could have the primary suite, though its look is more space age than the Tuscan-style interior design of the earlier version (which, to be fair, had a chokehold on many Boomer parents in the 2000s.)
The girls still stand in front of a mirror in Regina's room and critique their bodies, though Cady doesn't mention her "bad breath" in the new version of the film.
Later, in both films, when Cady tells Janis and Damian about the Burn Book, she denies that either of them are in it.
"You're not in it," Cady tells Janis in both films, lying.
"Those bitches," Janis replies.
The date of Oct. 3 has become somewhat of a holiday for "Mean Girls" fans across the country. It stems from a reference in the original film, when Cady tells her crush Aaron Samuels what day it is.
"What day is it?" he asks her during AP Calculus class.
"It's October 3rd."
Thankfully, this seemingly random date choice continues on in the new version of the film.
Another notable cringeworthy Cady-Aaron interaction made it into the updated film.
"Grool. I meant to say great and then I started to say cool," she says.
The Halloween party
It wouldn't be "Mean Girls" without an explanation of the sanctity of Halloween, aka "the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it."
In the new film, this is explained by Avantika’s Karen leading the audience in a social media-influenced song fittingly titled "Sexy," featuring the lyric, "This is modern feminism talking."
During the song, Karen explains that you can be anything (as long as it's sexy, of course). As she's holding up different costumes as examples, she briefly holds up an infamous look from the original film: a white tank top with holes cut out over the boobs.
In the first movie, Cady cut holes in Regina's top while she was showering in gym class. Due to Regina's popularity, the look — showing off a bright colored bra underneath — became the style du jour for North Shore High School. (Similarly, in the new film, Cady tries unsuccessfully to bring Regina down by turning on the sprinklers while she stands on a football field as part of the homecoming court. Unfortunately, this results in Regina "bringing back the wet look" and spawns a new, smeared eye makeup trend along with a Snapchat filter.)
Karen ends her musical number by explaining “I’m a sexy mouse, duh!” The line is reminiscent of Amanda Seyfried’s turn as Karen, who said almost the same thing.
Cady's house party
Both films feature a scene where Cady throws a house party while her mom is out of town. In the original, Cady gets out of going to Wisconsin with her parents to see the South African male singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
In the new film, Cady and her mom — played by “The Office” star Jenna Fischer — had tickets to see astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. It's also worth noting that in the new version, Cady convinces her mom to move back to the U.S. so she can have a more normal high school experience, and her father doesn't seem to be in the picture.
For the house party, Cady wears nearly-identical looks — a tight black mini dress with pink bra straps showing.
Naturally, the party gets out of hand in both versions, and Cady drunkenly argues with Aaron Samuels in her bedroom instead of hooking up. As he leaves (with her chasing him) she runs outside and into her real friends, Janis and Damian, whom she hadn't invited to the house party.
The friend breakup
In both films, it's immediately clear to Janis and Damian that Cady lied to them about being out of town and skipped Janis' art show.
In the original, Damian is driving a car which he "can't stop" because they are going to miss his curfew. In the new film, Damian is hilariously driving a motorized wheelchair instead.
"It's not my fault you're like obsessed with me or something!" Cady yells at Janis in both films.
Cravalho's Janis then delivers the same gut-wrenching line as the original: "That's the thing about you Plastics, you think everyone loves you but they actually hate you."
‘She (still) doesn't even go here’
After the Burn Book is revealed to the entire student body, all the junior girls are called into the gym for an emergency assembly.
Just as in the original film, a young woman almost immediately asks Principal Duvall about being made fun of for using "super jumbo tampons" when she has a "wide set vagina."
Fey's Norbury then asks the young women to write apologies, read them aloud and do a trust fall.
In the new film, no one is dropped (the original featured Gretchen falling to the floor after a lackluster apology), and Karen's apology still brings up the time she made fun of Gretchen for getting diarrhea in public.
The new version also features what might be the most quoted line from the original. When a student no one recognizes gets on stage to say she wishes everyone could get along and "bake a cake full of rainbows and smiles," Damian shouts from the back of the room in a blue hoodie: "She doesn't even go here!"
This time, however, it's explained that the student was at North Shore for a track meet.
Cady joins the Mathletes
Similar to the first film, Norbury makes Cady join the math team to earn extra credit and boost her AP Calculus grade, and she goes with the team to state.
In a surprise twist, the competition is actually hosted by Lindsay Lohan herself. She does not seem to be doing her Cady character (and Fey’s Norbury in the audience doesn’t seem to recognize her) but when the championship comes down to the two girls on each team battling it out, Lohan’s character knowingly quips that “this has only happened once before.”
Cady successfully gets the question right — realizing, of course, that “the limit does not exist” — and the North Shore team wins state. They don their letterman jackets and head to the spring fling dance.
The Spring Fling dance
If you've made it this far into this thesis, congrats! We're almost done.
The Spring Fling dance is almost the same as the film. Cady wins Spring Fling queen and is handed a plastic tiara by Duvall.
She realizes it's just "cheap, fake, easy to break" plastic and snaps it into pieces as the crowd gasps. In the new version, she sings a song titled "I See Stars" as she hands out the pieces to people in the audience.
The film ends with the girl "who doesn't even go here" performing the rest of the song and the entire cast dancing together. A garage door superimposed over the scene closes — a callback to the beginning of the film when Janis and Damian are established as narrators — and a "Mean Girls" logo appears.