Lindsay Lohan hit the big time as Cady, an open-minded, home-taught student whose African upbringing leaves her ill-prepared for the human zoo that is the American high school. But after deciding to bring down the school's cattiest all-girl clique from the inside, she finds herself lured to their designer-clad dark side. Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried sharpen their claws, while Tina Fey, who co-wrote the witty screenplay, also makes an appearance in this modern exaggeration of teenage life.
Mark S Waters
You could be forgiven for shuddering with apprehension at the prospect of yet another American college drama featuring a coven of cheerleader bitches from hell.
However, this comes from the pen of Saturday Night Live stalwart Tina Fey (who also has a small role) and is directed by Mark Waters of Freaky Friday fame.
Together with an assured performance from Lindsay Lohan (who also starred in FF), we have a waspishly witty comedy that bothers to create real characters.
Lohan is Cady Heron, a student taught at home when she wasn't dotting around the African wilderness with her research scientist parents.
Confident her experiences have given her the means to survive in the wild, she finds herself totally unprepared for the college jungle.
Disorientated on her first day by the baffling school rituals, she's taken under the wing of Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese).
Bohemian social outcasts, Janis' suspected lesbianism meant she was banned from a pool party while Damian "is almost too gay to function".
They brief her on how to deal with The Plastics, a viciously bitchy trio obsessed with fashion and one-upgirlship and led by Queen Bee Regina (McAdams).
However, they can only look on aghast as Cady is adopted as one of their own and recruited into the exclusive ranks of the little rich girls.
Based on the novel Queen Bees and Wannabee's this crackles with a brittle humour lent a black authenticity because it's delivered by people you can believe in.
Lohan, who has made a full recovery from Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen, is terrific as the ingenue who finds herself turning into the sort of person she despises.
Waters and Fey have bothered to flesh out the characters so we don't get the usual stereotypes casting their low-wattage talent across a dim-bulb teen comedy.
For example, Regina may be a prize cow but her insecurities mean she has a vulnerability absent from the usual A-list bitch cliques.
There's also some splendid support, particularly Regina's hopelessly subservient mother and Tim Meadow's put-upon school principal.
It's not without the flavour we've come to expect from the genre, but Fey's razor-sharp script ensures it stands head and shoulders above similar fare.