Salty Air

They might be mean, but they’re a lot of fun – Play It Again, Tim

Mean Girls
Written by Tim Miller

A movie based on a stage musical based on a movie based on a book?

Might be a bit stale.

But that’s not the case with the new “Mean Girls” movie musical (PG-13, 112 minutes, in theaters). It bursts with life from start to finish, with funny, fast-paced songs; comically over-the-top performances; and a relentlessly witty script from Tina Fey.

Mean Girls

The Plastics gather in “Mean Girls”: from left, Avantika as Karen, Renee Rapp as Regina, Bebe Wood as Gretchen and Angourie Rice as Cady. (Jojo Whilden/Paramount Pictures)

Fey also wrote the book for the  2018 Broadway musical and the screenplay for the 2004 Lindsay Lohan comedy, based on Rosalind Wiseman’s novel “Queen Bees and Wannabes.”

The story centers on Cady Heron (Angourie Rice), homeschooled by her mom (Jenna Fischer) in Kenya, who moves back to the United States and enrolls at North Shore High School. She hangs out with outcasts Janis ‘Imi’ike (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey), who point out the various cliques at the school, including a trio of popular snobs, the Plastics: ditsy Karen Shetty (Avantika), insecure Gretchen Wieners (Bebe Wood) and the leader, high school femme fatale Regina George (Renee Rapp).

Cady befriends the Plastics, but develops a crush on Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney), Regina’s ex-boyfriend. This doesn’t sit well with Regina, and she and Cady turn on each other. Has nice-girl Cady become permanently Plastic?

While all of this plays out, the accompanying songs – with music by Fey’s husband, Jeff Richmond, and lyrics by Nell Benjamin – enhance the proceedings. Plastic member Karen, for instance, sings in the song “Sexy” of her favorite holiday: “On Halloween/You can pretend to be someone else/It’s like the Internet/Only in person and with candy.”

There isn’t a weak spot on the cast – Fey and Jon Hamm play teachers and Tim Meadows, the principal – though the revelation here is Rapp, a force of nature as the comically vampish Regina, a part she also played in the Broadway show. Rapp, a regular in the TV series “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” has the makings of a huge star. ***½ (out of four)

The buzz on ‘The Beekeeper’

What? “The Beekeeper” (R, 105 minutes, in theaters) doesn’t star Sting?

Talk about a blown opportunity.

And that’s not the only one.

The Beekeeper

Jason Statham plays Beekeeper-turned-beekeeper-turned-vigilante Adam Clay in “The Beekeeper.” (Amazon MGM Studios)

Jason Statham, arguably the action-hero version of Sting, plays the title role in his usual extremely cool, highly engaging bad-ass mode. The gravelly voiced Brit often wastes his talent on subpar material (the “Crank” movies, the “Meg” movies, etc.), but, at first, “The Beekeeper” seems like it could be one of his better vehicles. That is, until it doesn’t.

Statham plays Adam Clay, and, yes, he’s a beekeeper. He wasn’t always a beekeeper, though – not in the literal sense. He’s a retired agent of a powerful secret organization known as “the Beekeepers.” Still, going from Beekeeper to beekeeper is quite the coincidence, don’t you think? Coincidences are common in this movie.

When his elderly friend Eloise (Phylicia Rashad) is ripped off by an online scam group and commits suicide, Clay decides to put the honey biz aside and go back to his violent ways in the name of revenge. (Eloise’s daughter, Verona – played by Emmy Raver-Lampman – is, coincidentally, an FBI agent also involved in the case.) Clay tracks down the Internet scammers responsible for Eloise’s death and makes them, and their modern business building, pay dearly.

This provides a jolt of catharsis for moviegoers who think online ripoff artists are scum. So far, so good. Sure, the movie is already ludicrous, and violent in an over-the-top way. But it’s fun.

Then it goes off the rails – to an obnoxious degree. The plot becomes increasingly ridiculous, while Clay indiscriminately beats, maims and kills anyone who gets in his way – regardless of whether they’re on the right or wrong side of the law. (As if that should matter!)

You reach a point where you wonder, “Wait. … Why am I rooting for this guy, again?” And, then, “Wait. … Why am I watching this, again?” *½

Stay out of the pool

According to, “Night Swim” (PG-13, 98 minutes, in theaters) was originally a 4-minute short.

It should have stayed that way.

Night Swim

Eve Waller (Kerry Condon) takes a dip in a swimming pool from hell in “Night Swim.” (Universal Pictures)

Instead, it’s a full-length goofball horror concoction blending ‘The Natural,” “Faust,” “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” “The Amityville Horror” and the swimming-pool game “Marco Polo.” That combination might sound like fun, and it should be, but director/co-writer Bryce McGuire (“Unfollowed”) plays it too straight. The only exception is an otherwise trite psycho-killer-stalking-an-innocent sequence in which the villain kiddingly starts his own deranged “Marco Polo” contest.

The Walker family – Ray (Wyatt Russell) and Eve (Kerry Condon, recently of “The Banshees of Inisherin”), teen daughter Izzy (Amelie Hoeferle) and young son Elliot (Gavin Warren) – moves into a home whose backyard pool has a creepy history. Ray, an ex-pro ballplayer whose career was cut short by a degenerative illness, finds the pool is therapeutic; the rest of the family, not so much. They have scary visions; they hear voices; they get tugged around in the pool by who knows what. And Ray starts acting a tad nutty.

It’s mildly suspenseful at best. **

** Click here for  Tim Miller’s previous movie columns for Cape Cod Wave **

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Tim Miller

Tim Miller, Movie Critic

Tim Miller is co-president of the Boston Society of Film Critics and a Tomatometer-approved critic. He teaches film and journalism at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @TimMillerCritic. Or you can ignore him completely.

About the author

Tim Miller

Tim Miller, a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics, was the Cape Cod Times film critic for nearly 36 years. A Detroit native (and hardcore Tigers fan), he’s been obsessed with movies since skipping school in 1962 to see “Lawrence of Arabia” with his parents when he was 7. Miller earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and his master’s from Suffolk University, where he taught film and journalism for 10 years. He continues to teach film at Curry College and Cape Cod Community College. He is a juror each year for the short-film competition of the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival, has moderated several panel discussions at the Woods Hole Film Festival and frequently is heard as a guest on Cape & Islands NPR station WCAI. His work appeared as a chapter in the book “John Sayles: Interviews.” His favorite movie is Cameron Crowe's “Almost Famous” – because it makes him feel good to be alive.

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