Grease (1978)

grease IMDb

I never liked this movie much growing up. This was a movie my sisters would watch whenever possible, so for childhood Ben, if Grease was on the television, it just meant I could not watch Star Wars for a couple of hours. It was really annoying.

As I grew older though, I came to appreciate this film a lot more. The music in it is timeless. I am surprised how many of these songs I know by heart. When we were watching this film the other day, I really couldn’t help but sing along to this movie. The songs are so catchy. One of my choir concerts in 5th grade was a Grease tribute so I knew all of the words to these songs, but that was 20 years ago. I’m really surprised it has stuck and I am able to break into “Greased Lightnin'” whenever the situation happens to present itself (it is more often than you would think).

For those of you that don’t know, Grease is a teen musical set in the 50s. Cool kid and bad boy, Danny Zuco (John Travolta), has returned to school after a summer fling with a lonely Aussie, Sandy (Olivia Newton john), who he thought was returning home to Sydney. Turns out she has enrolled at his school, and when she finds out he is a bad boy and not the nice young gentleman he claimed to be, Sandy is pissed. Danny has to clean up his act in order to win the girl of his dreams, all while singing ridiculously catchy songs.

I had some problems with the message this musical gives, in the end Sandy ends up changing everything about herself in order to win Danny over. I thought that was a terrible message for young girls to see. Although, I am sure this is how things likely were in the 50s where this movie is set so I was not too upset. Despite this anti-feminism ending, Grease still holds up today. Travolta is just as cool as he ever was, Olivia Newton John is delightfully naïve as Sandy, and the songs are still amazing. My only real complaint is that anybody who thought these actors could play teenagers was smoking something. Olivia Newton John was nearly 30 when she made this film. Only an idiot would think she is 17 years old.

Also, where is the love for Marty (Dinah Manoff)? She is, by far, the prettiest Pink Lady, and she has to hook up with one of the dud generic T-Birds at the end. She should have at least been able to get Kenickie (Jeff Conaway)

Grease is a fantastic musical with cool characters and really catchy music. Despite the controversial ending full of conformity, there is still a lot of fun to be had here.

Rating: B

Where do I even start when talking about Grease? This is truly a cinema classic, consistently maintaining its popularity for nearly 40 years. I mean, my mom loved this movie when it was originally released. I loved it the first time I watched it in the 1990s. Someday I hope to have a daughter who loves it as well. And in case you think this is a movie that only appeals to women, even my dad likes Grease (though he feels it would be a better movie “without all that singing and dancing”).

It’s amazing that something like Grease still holds up today. This is a movie about the 1950s made in the 1970s. It could so easily feel dated and stale, but it doesn’t. I think this movie still resonates with audiences because it deals with issues that will always be relevant: young love, fitting in at a new school, worrying about life after graduation. However, instead of making a serious movie about these “tough” teenage years, Grease does nothing but make fun of them. It’s brilliant really. As a teen you can relate to the movie because you don’t realize that the script is making fun of how seriously teenagers take everything. As an adult you get it, and can laugh at how stupid you were as a teenager. (This may not have been what the filmmakers were going for, but this is definitely how I view the movie now. It also makes it much easier to stomach Sandy’s problematic transformation to greaser chick at the end.)

Of course the songs are a big part of Grease‘s continued appeal. These ditties will be stuck in your head for days after watching the movie. (In fact, I’ve been singing “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” the entire time I’ve been writing this. Forget Sandy– Rizzo is the real star.) Tracks like “Summer Nights” and “Greased Lightnin'” are karaoke favorites, and stuff like “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee”  and “Beauty School Dropout” are hilarious good fun. There isn’t a song on this soundtrack that I don’t know practically by heart despite not having watched this in several years.

Grease is about a close to perfection as a movie musical can get. Yes, the ending is questionable (to be fair, the stage show this is adapted from ends in the same way), and none of the actors believably pass for teens. But in the end these are not huge problems. It’s easy enough to just go along with the absurdity and start singing.

Rating: A-

One thought on “Grease (1978)

  1. Pingback: Hairspray (2007) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

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