Another day, another musical film of the musical play of the film of the book. And another property I wasn’t that invested in. I saw the original Lindsay Lohan Mean Girls only a few years ago and thought it was fine, but lacking the savage punk energy of the sublime Heathers to which it appears to owe a significant debt. And the unreality of Heathers means that it musicalises really very well (surely the musical film of Heathers can’t be too far away?) whereas this doesn’t have quite the same scope – but also it isn’t trying to be a heartfelt drama about important social issues either.

The cast are all pretty great, most of them new to me. Angourie Rice is a suitably winsome lead, Reneé Rapp, reprising her stage role, is excellent (taking over from Rachel McAdams) but Busy Philipps is a bit of a downgrade from Amy Poehler (whereas Tina Fey and Tim Meadows just reprise their roles, although Fey bizarrely has omitted to give herself anything funny to do). Jon Hamm has three lines, two of them in the trailer. MVP is the hilarious Avantika who bristles with comic energy whenever she’s on screen.

The plot is… Mean Girls. The songs are fine… There’s some sharp lyric writing and some nifty choreography, but I couldn’t hum any of the tunes today, less than 48 hours after seeing the movie. Without the novelty of seeing this for the first time in 2004, and without the excitement of a live performance, this feels constrained (as opposed to the film of Matilda which exploded off the big screen). Directing team Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr make it flow and feel cohesive in the way that Blitz Bazawule didn’t with The Color Purple, and there are flickers of imagination in numbers like “Apex Predator” but overall, this just seems a bit… plastic.

The Color Purple
The Zone of Interest