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This song cut from the 2024 Mean Girls movie could’ve saved Cady’s arc

The new Cady never really gets mean enough

Angourie Rice as Cady, sitting at her desk and looking at the camera Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount Pictures
Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

Like many theatrical adaptations of stage musicals, Mean Girls (2024) doesn’t include all the songs from the Broadway version. After all, the musical has a two-and-a-half-hour run time, which wouldn’t translate well into a breezy, snappy film. Directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. had to make some cuts.

Some of the movie’s trims work out. Many of the cut songs are reprises, or numbers that heavily feature protagonist Cady Heron — but Angourie Rice, who plays Cady in the 2024 movie, doesn’t have the voice for those songs. (Case in point: Jaquel Spivey as Damian takes over her soaring, belt-heavy part in “Apex Predator.”) Some of the more fun songs have been cut down — like “Meet the Plastics.” In the movie, it’s just an intro for head mean girl Regina George (Reneé Rapp). But the original version features a unique intro for each member of her clique, which helps solidify their distinct, hilarious personalities. Few of those parings have any real impact on the plot, though.

Except for one critical moment.

In the Broadway musical, Damian leads a song called “Stop,” where he calls Cady out for turning into Regina. He’s trying to get Cady to pump the brakes on the mega-bitch personality she’s started to take on, as her project to infiltrate the Plastics by pretending to become one of them stops being pretend. It’s a fun song for Damian (and seeing Spivey take on the tap dancing would’ve been a great moment in the movie), but it also provides some key context for Cady’s character development.

The new Mean Girls doesn’t really do enough to hammer home Cady’s heel-turn into the new Regina. That’s a key part of the original movie, where Lindsay Lohan’s voice-over helps sell Cady’s increasing obsession with Regina and taking up her lifestyle. In Mean Girls (2024), the change is startlingly abrupt. Immediately following Regina’s very public fall (physical and metaphorical) at the winter talent show, Cady becomes the center of attention on social media. The next scene has her primping in class, ignoring her friends in homeroom, and lying about weekend plans to her mom.

Technically, her alteration happens after winter break, and she’s had some off-screen time to adapt to her new status. But this selfish, status-obsessed version of Cady feels like a huge leap when her previous song was mostly her being wide-eyed, timid, and pushed around by everyone else. In the musical, there are three whole songs and an intermission before she becomes the new Regina, so the passage of time is clearer. Rice’s Cady doesn’t get a slow escalation, or a clear time break. She suddenly goes from doe-eyed ingénue who can barely stomach the idea of revenge into someone fake crying in front of her mom so she can get out of a planned mother-daughter trip and throw a rager in mom’s absence.

Damien, Cady, and Janis stand on the edges of the cafeteria in Mean Girls (2024) Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount Pictures

Keeping “Stop” in the movie version would’ve emphasized Cady’s evolution. It isn’t the slow escalation of obsessive thoughts from the original movie, or the clear time break in the Broadway musical, but it would call out Cady’s actions and reiterate that her attitude has been evolving for quite some time. Cady’s arc is key to Mean Girls, because it shows how easily even the best-intentioned people can get wrapped up in revenge and the chase for popularity.

And the speed of her change undermines the impact when she pulls out of it. The turning point where Cady finally decides to just be herself and go to the mathletes tournament, then celebrates all her peers in school — not just the popular ones — doesn’t have as much impact if we don’t see Cady buy into the allure of the Plastic lifestyle first.

Besides the ways “Stop” helps move the plot along, it’s just a good song for Damian! His other big song, “Where Do You Belong?” also didn’t make the movie cut. (It isn’t super plot-relevant, so that’s fine.) But even though Spivey gets Cady’s part in “Apex Predator,” “Stop” would be a better showcase of his comedic chops and his impressive vocals. Spivey’s take on Damian is one of the best parts of the movie, and keeping this song could’ve been a chance for him to shine.

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