film review

Review | Grease – 1978

After the summer holiday, the Australian girl Sandy stays in the United States. Sandy is a very sweet and innocent teenage girl who enters Rydell High School. Accidentally, her summer love Danny Zuko goes to the same school and he is also the most popular guy at school. Sandy becomes friends with the popular girl group ‘The Pink Ladies’, who happens to know Danny and his buddies – who call themselves the ‘T-Birds’. After Danny behaved like a complete fool towards Sandy, he has to work hard to win her heart. In turn, Sandy has to change as well to fit better in Danny’s world.grease-2

I re-watched the DVD Grease for a special rubric on Undercover Network. For the Dutch version of this article, click ‘here’. Here we discuss old and classic films and I chose Grease because this film is in my opinion a true musical film classic. The story and the music are truly timeless! The popularity of the story and the music can be seen in the many musical versions – both in the Netherlands and abroad – and the use of the songs during many highschool parties. The High School Musical franchise could be called a modern version of Grease, which is still the most visited musical film in the US. Grease also did a good job at the award shows. Grease won two People’s Choice Awards for Best Motion Picture and Best Musical Motion Picture. Because of its success, a second film was made in 1982: Grease 2. But this film with Michelle Pfeiffer scored significantly less than its predecessor. What most people don’t know, the film Grease is based on the musical from 1971 of the same name. The musical and most of its songs are written by Warren Casey en Jim Jacobs.

Nowadays, the highschool concept is used very often and the most films are alike. But with a twist of the fifties, you’ll have the better highschool film! The presence of the music from the fifties and sixties is timeless and along with that clothing style the film gives the viewers a complete different vibe. When we look at all those – unnecessary – reboots, a reboot of Grease would only work with a cast who has the proper age and when they leave the story alone. I think that one critical point of Grease, is the age of many actors. For example, Danny and Sandy are highschool teenagers in their senior year who should be 18 years old. In fact, both John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John where already in their mid-twenties! Nevertheless, both actors gave a credible performance.

Of course, Grease is a typical highschool film for teenagers with a lot of clichés. A popular and tough guy versus a shy girl who secretly like each other, but aren’t an item yet. The characters also encounter a lot of troubles and not only the two lead characters. Because the story doesn’t only focus on Danny and Sandy, the other parts – the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds – are getting their time and space to tell their story as well. Especially the character of Pink Ladie Rizzo, played by Stockard Channing, is well explored. She even has her own song: There are worse Things I could Do. Grease sounds a bit predictable and it mostly is. However, the film truly is an entertaining summer film with a good amount of humor. The actors who are the most funniest, are the three members of the T-birds. Doody (Barry Pearl), Sonny (Michael Tucci) and Putzie (Kelly Ward) definitely are some good pranksters who put a smile on my face very often!grease-1

Like I mentioned before, the music is – after all those years – still very good and therefore timeless. I think those years were very good for the music industry, if you are into that kind of music – which I am! Since Grease is a musical, the film involves a lot of singing and dancing. The actors all have good or adequate singing skills, but I do have my doubts on the hilarious dance moves. You also can question the choreographer instead of the actors’ dancing skills. However, those hilarious moves do fit very well into this comic vibe of the film.

It should clear that Grease is a timeless musical film classic. It is not that spectacular and perhaps quite predictable, but this doesn’t mean that it’s not entertaining. Fortunately, the romance is not dripping from the screen and the story provides enough space for multiple characters. There is a good dose of humor present, where especially the male supporting cast precautions. Several songs from the film, such as Greased Lightning and You’re The One That I Want are still heard in various school events. Also, the musical performances are still very popular even with a new Dutch production coming up!


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