When films are released as straight-to-video, expectations generally have to be lowered. This becomes very difficult when the film is released as a sequel to a film that was already incredibly popular just a few years ago. This is the case with Mean Girls 2, the follow-up to 2004’s Mean Girls.

Yet again, the story focuses on a high school student moving to a new school. This time, the girl’s name is Jo Mitchell (Meaghan Jette Martin), and she’s a bit of a loner, so she tells us with her opening voice-over. She is welcomed to the school by Abby (Jennifer Stone), a girl who we can quickly acknowledge as the girl who gets beaten up in school. She’s one of those unpopular students, the ones that the ‘cool’ people wouldn’t be caught dead with. Naturally, Jo befriends her.

She has good reason to though, Abby’s father pays her. No really, he offers her $50 000 to be Abby’s friend for the rest of the year. Although this isn’t why Jo does this, she ends accepting the money. Jo wants to go to college after all, and her father’s business isn’t going as well as it used to. She needs to accept the money, otherwise she’ll have to go to a college close to home, and that just wouldn’t do.

Anyway, back at school, Abby’s life, and by extension, Jo’s own, is beginning to take a turn for the worst. “The Plastics” are back, reincarnated, I suppose, for the newer generation. They are led by Mandi (Maiara Walsh), a girl so incredibly evil that she marks the top of her “i” with a heart instead of the usual dot. That’s not exactly fair, Mandi and her group is fairly mean, even going so far as to destroy the motor of the car her father was fixing up.

Jo swears revenge upon the new group of evil popular children, and that’s what the rest of the film centers on. Over the course of Mean Girls 2, many jokes from the original are re-hashed, usually far less effectively than before, and the plot takes almost the same path that it took in Mean Girls. Things do happen differently, but the end result is just about exactly the same.

The thing is, this time anyway, we don’t care at all about any of the characters involved. In Mean Girls, we got significant depth into Cady, and we wanted to see her take the Plastics down. In this one, Jo acts just as, if not more, evil as they do, and when things turn around upon her, we can’t feel sorry for her, as the film seems to want us to. Even near the beginning, when she is clearly fighting back against the Plastics, she is still deceiving her “friend” by taking the money from Abby’s father.

It’s funny, but for a film that does bill itself as a sequel, it does feel like more of a rip-off than anything else. There is one character that reprises their role from the previous film, and that is the character of the principal, played by Tim Meadows. Apart from that, nothing from the original film returns, except for the slightly altered plot, now even thinner and less believable than it was before.

If there was one main problem that Mean Girls had, it was that it felt like the events happening within it were just a bit too farfetched to actually be happening. I’m sure some of it could and does happen in school, but sometimes it just seemed too unbelievable. In Mean Girls 2, almost all of the major plot events are like this. For example, do you really think people would paintball someone’s car? How about gluing the seat of someone’s moped so that they become stuck to it?

What’s worse, the Plastics in this film have even less reason to make Abby and Jo’s lives miserable. For Abby, they don’t like her before the film begins, and it’s just because Abby is richer than Mandi. For ruining Jo’s life, it seems to be based purely on jealousy, even if Mandi stays popular even after Jo appears at the school. The so-called jealousy doesn’t even have much backing behind it, let alone letting it drive an entire character throughout the story.

Okay, so it has got a weak plot with weak characters, at least it has a humorous script, right? Nope. It doesn’t, sorry. It has a couple of moments that will give you a chuckle, but for the most part, no, it just isn’t that funny. The funniest parts, for me at least, were when the lower budget really came through in the filmmaking.

For example, there’s one shot when Jo receives a college application letter, stating that she was accepted. There is a shot that lasts for about a second that actually shows the letter. Said letter wasn’t even grammatically correct, and if you pay close, or even somewhat close, attention, you will notice this. I laughed loud at this, and while it wasn’t the only moment of the lower budget coming through, it was the most memorable.

Something else showing the lower budget was the actors hired for the film. The main cast, Jo, Abby and Mandi, are all former Disney stars. This doesn’t bode well for them to begin with, and we begin to notice in a feature-length film that they aren’t the greatest actors in the world. They’re not terrible, no, but they have about as emotional a performance as a brick wall. Yes, if allow paint to drip down it, you can make it look like it’s crying, and that’s about how the actors in the film felt like.

I swear that Jo’s love interest (Diego Gonz├ílez) looked like a teenage Jake Gyllenhaal, but maybe that was just me. I will say that it was enjoyable hearing the Disney stars cursing and talking somewhat like real teenagers for once though. If nothing else, that made me respect them a bit, finally taking part in a project that doesn’t unrealistically idealize teenage years.

For all the complaining about the film I’ve done, I can’t say that the film was a complete waste. For some reason, I didn’t absolutely hate it. It stayed somewhat entertaining throughout, maybe for the “so bad it’s good” factor, I’m not really sure. Maybe I kept hoping that it would improve, even if it did keep getting worse as the film progressed. There were some humorous parts, and the story does at least have enough twists in it that if you haven’t seen Mean Girls, you’ll be surprised by them.

Basically, there isn’t any reason to see Mean Girls 2, because Mean Girls still exists. Until all of the copies of the original are destroyed, you have no reason to watch this low-budget sequel/rip-off. The characters have little depth and almost no motivation, the story isn’t surprising if you’ve seen the original, and most of the jokes are replays of the ones seen in the first film. The acting isn’t all that good, and while it was nice to see some Disney stars taking on more mature and realistic roles, the film didn’t feel at all believable, as the entire drama of high school felt way too over-the-top. There isn’t much reason for this film to exist, except cash-in on the Mean Girls name. Don’t let it draw you in.