Director Mark Waters said the "thigh slap" was initially something even more risqué.

Olivia Harvey
Nov 17, 2020 @ 12:37 pm
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Credit: CBS Photo Archive / Contributor, Getty Images

The uncomfortable and cringe-worthy moments of Mean Girls are what makes the movie so good, with one of the most awkward scenes being the one in which the Plastics (and Lindsay Lohan's Caty) dance to "Jingle Bell Rock." Though the dance that made it into the final cut of the movie is pretty suggestive as is, the film's director Mark Waters says that the original version was actually so much more risqué than the routine we've memorized by heart.

Waters told Entertainment Weekly that the script stated, "They do some sexually embarrassing dance move." Waters said, "It was a lot of effort coming up with, 'How do we do that?'"

The first draft of the choreography fit the intended R-rating of the film, which was eventually released as PG-13. "They were going to turn and stick their posteriors up in the air," Waters said. "And then they showed it to me, and I was like, 'Whoa, that’s too much! Go with something else.'"

"Because Lindsay was a minor at the time we actually had a real struggle finding time to choreograph the thing," Waters continued. "We hired a choreographer; it was going to be a much more elaborate dance." But because they couldn't book enough time to practice with Lohan, "it ended up being a little more roughshod and a little messier than we were intending, but that ended up being the greatest thing."

"We're actually able to do this for real and have it feel messy like it should [for high school teens]," he said. "That worked for the movie."

It took some brainstorming, rehearsal time, and collaboration to come up with the "thigh slap" we now all now and love. "That's how we got this idea of, 'Let's do this stripper thigh slap simultaneously,' and it just germinated out of the rehearsals organically, which ended up being the funniest part of the scene," Waters continued.

Waters noted that both Neil Flynn's [who played Caty's father] reaction and Amy Poehler's dancing in the aisles were all improvised in the moment. "I got to work with all of these black belt ninja adult comedy stars like Neil Flynn and Tim Meadows and Amy Poehler, all of them," he told EW. "The young actors were obviously the core of the story but every time one of those guys would come in, they would just destroy."

Waters also disclosed that "Jingle Bell Rock" was their last resort after they couldn't secure the rights to several Christmas tunes to use in the scene. Though it wasn't their first choice, "We were just happy to have anybody say yes," he said.

Imagine if the "Jingle Bell Rock" scene was set to "Holly Jolly Christmas?" We shutter at the thought.