I need some reassurance here. I need someone to tell me that, for girls, Mean Girls isn’t an accurate depiction of how things work in high school. If it is, then my eyes have certainly been opened. Somehow, I doubt this is the case though, because the events within the film just seem a slight bit too exaggerated to be completely realistic.

Either way, Mean Girls centers on one high school student in particular. Her name is Cady (Lindsay Lohan), and she is just now entering her first year of public school. Up until her current age of 16, she had been homeschooled by her parents. Having never adjusted to the social situation that comes from the school system, she is thrust into the violent world of high school.

And what a violent world it is. Insults are thrown left and right, characters’ interactions with one another are superficial beyond all belief, and nobody treats each other with any bit of dignity or respect. Think, for a second, about the absolute worst experience you had in high school. Then, imagine how bad you felt during that time and project that sorrow onto every part of high school. This is a pretty good idea of how Cady initially feels when she enters this new environment.

Eventually, Cady begins to adjust and make friends. At first, she is singled out by two slightly off-beat characters. They befriend her, even if they aren’t ‘popular’ in the high school setting. After this, she is befriended by the popular students, led by a girl named Regina (Rachel McAdams). The so-called “Mean Girls” from the title refers to the popular students, or at least, does at the beginning.

See, the two people who Cady initially befriends don’t like Regina or her party. They decide to use Cady as a double agent, finding out things about Regina, while also using the trust that she gains to destroy Regina’s popularity and hold over the students of the school.

Cady starts to like doing this, while also growing to like the way Regina acts. She begins to enjoy acting like Regina–pushing people around, being manipulative–and this starts to alienate her from the friends she made earlier, the same friends who, with her help, planned to destroy Regina’s life.

Cady’s inner conflict and desires drive the second half of the film. Despite having a plan, and for the most part, sticking to it, we aren’t really sure what she’s going to do in each scene. Even in ones that begin with her own narration, her actions sometimes go against her thoughts. The film keeps us on-edge, just because we want to see what Cady will do next.

The film also keeps our attention through the different characters it presents us with. All of the characters are interesting, and, for better or worse, you will care what happens to them. Whether you want to see Cady succeed in, well, doing whatever it is she wants to do, or if you want to see Regina’s smile get wiped off her face, you will want to see the story through to the end.

Mean Girls was written by Tina Fey, who also co-stars in it as Cady’s mathematics teacher. I don’t think Fey quite understands the way teenagers communicate with one another, as the film’s dialogue doesn’t come across as realistic. At least, some of the scenes seemed fake. There weren’t many happy or polite scenes within the film, showing high school life in the most negative light possible.

Now, this may just be me and my own view of the world, but high school just isn’t quite as bad as the film portrays it. Now, I’m sure there are some high schools where life is rough, and there are very few happy moments, but the school that the characters go to in Mean Girls just didn’t give off that kind of vibe. The school seemed well-off and the characters weren’t struggling along in life. It seemed that their only real problems did happen in high school, and compared to some things that could be happening to them, their issues with one another seemed trivial.

Apart from the fact that the negative portrayal of high school seemed to be a little bit too extreme for me, the only other problem that the film has was the lack of humor it had in its middle act. The film starts off quite humorous, but loses that focus part way through. It picks it up later on, yes, but there aren’t a lot of laughs in the middle part of the film. The film has to rely on its story and characters, and thankfully, they manage to carry the load.

I liked Mean Girls. I liked it far more than I thought I would. The film ended up being very interesting. While I don’t believe it was, or even really tried to be, an accurate representation of high school life, the setting made it something that almost everyone could relate to. The characters were interesting, and you want to see the story conclude, meaning you will see it through to the end. It wasn’t incredibly funny, but it was humorous enough to give out a few laughs. Mean Girls is a solid film, one that I would recommend watching.