A girl who’s been home-schooled until the age of 16 (Lindsay Lohan) enters public school and the cutthroat world of teenage-girl cliques, where she becomes bitten by the popularity bug. Tina Fey’s script (from Rosalind Wiseman’s book Queen Bees and Wannabes
) never quite manages to rise above teen-comedy clichés, but Fey injects the familiar story with wit and some surprising insight—though the live-and-let-live message gets a bit heavy-handed in the last act. Young Lohan keeps getting better with every film, and the supporting cast is first-rate: Rachel McAdams as the school’s Queen Bee, Lacey Chabert as her sidekick, Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Franzese as social outcasts, Tim Meadows as the harried principal, and Fey herself as an earnest teacher. Mark S. Waters directs with a sprightly touch.