The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

If “Mean Girls” (2024) Taught Us Anything, It’s That Not Every Movie Needs a Sequel

Staff illustration: Amber More

In recent years, we’ve seen an eruption of sequels popping up in our Netflix recommendations. It seems that every major entertainment studio has decided to take on some sort of ‘Part II’ or reimagination of a previously successful movie, whether it be a new version of “Mean Girls,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” or “Spider-Man” — the list goes on. I’ll admit that despite my brief career as a moviemaking student at Menlo, I’m not the most well-versed in the inner workings of the filmmaking industry. I can, however, give you my point of view as an everyday person who loves a good outing to the movie theater, and my opinion is that viewers are being disappointed by sequels far too often. I feel that many of these new sequels have simply fallen flat in comparison to their predecessors. And this seems to be a pattern; I mean, besides old classics like “The Godfather Part II” and “The Godfather Part III” or the too-many-to-count “Lord of the Rings” movies, when was the last time you heard of a sequel picture being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture? Hollywood’s got to learn to leave ‘good enough’ alone rather than trying and failing to capitalize on the success a previous movie attained.

When I walked into the theater to see the new “Mean Girls,” I was so excited to see how it would compare to the original. “Mean Girls” (2004) was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, characterizing early-2000s teen life in an inimitable way and still being quoted daily by millennials and Gen Zers 20 years later.

However, writer of both the original and remake Tina Fey did not live up to her own standards when creating “Mean Girls” (2024). She attempted to imitate the popular Broadway Mean Girls show, altering its musical numbers to create watered-down songs that simply fell flat. She also failed to incorporate modern technology like texting, emojis or social media in a way that is even slightly relatable to the modern teenager. And if you’ve been on the 2024 “Mean Girls” side of TikTok, you can probably guess how I feel about the Shein-esque costuming choices. After the 2011 sequel of the original, “Mean Girls 2,” was so ill-received, Fey should’ve guessed that any sequels or remakes would be nothing compared to the original.

A 2014 CBS survey polled Americans on their favorite films of all times, and frequent answers included “The Wizard of Oz,” “Gone with the Wind,” “Titanic,” “The Sound of Music,” “The Notebook,” or “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.” What’s the common thread here? All these movies are original and unreplicated, which is part of why they all took the world by storm. In fact, director Steven Spielberg once mentioned that he will never make a follow up of “E.T.,” saying “sequels can be very dangerous because they compromise your truth as an artist. I think a sequel to E.T. would do nothing but rob the original of its virginity.” This just goes to show that if a movie is a hit, let it be a hit and move on to creating something newer and better.

I don’t mean to say that a sequel can’t be done right — “Top Gun: Maverick” proves that it is possible. The difference is that the sequel was well-executed. The film doesn’t imitate the same storyline as the original “Top Gun” but with shoddy modernization, it doesn’t create a storyline that’s completely irrelevant to the original movie and directors waited 36 years to create the sequel, making it feel like less of a money grab. It builds off the original movie and characters but offers new and interesting plot points that appeal to both older and younger audiences. 

So, the moral of the story is that if you want to make a sequel, you have to perfectly balance particular elements in a way that will make it successful: its own standalone story, new talent, a surprise factor and both familiar and novel elements, among other things. Chances are, you’re best off just appreciating the original movie’s success and moving on. If it’s really that good, it’s likely that any form of a sequel will just disappoint viewers’ high expectations rather than paying homage to the original. Instead, let’s cross our fingers that Hollywood producers will start to come out with fresh ideas that can become the new classics of our generation.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Alyssa McAdams
Alyssa McAdams, Print Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: Layout days, because we get to listen to music and eat snacks and talk while we work together on print

Interests outside of school: Soccer, flag football, piano, and spending time with my dog

Class of 2025

Comments (0)

The Coat of Arms encourages dialogue with our audience. We welcome constructive comments that avoid slander, hate, profanity and misinformation. In an effort to give voice to a variety of perspectives, anonymous comments will be considered, but signed comments are preferred. If you would like to submit an anonymous comment, please write "Anonymous" in the "Name" field below. While a valid email address is required, The Coat of Arms will not publish your email address. The Editorial Board will review comments and decide whether they will be put online; the editors reserve the right to edit for concision.
All The Coat of Arms Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *