Ossus Library Index Comedy Index

GREASE

Directed by Randal Kleiser (1978, Paramount Pictures)
Starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing and Jeff Conaway

A high school boy and girl try to reconcile their feelings for each other amid their social image.

 

 

4 stars

November 3rd, 2007 on DVD for the 3rd time  
    I never noticed, before, how geeky all the characters in this movie were, though they were supposed to be so cool. They made great comic relief beside the main and supporting characters. The movie is pretty tame compared to what is currently in theatres geared toward the same type of viewer, but that's the way things were 30 years ago. I tend to like this better, because it is more story than anything. And great music, sung by the actors, in a very fun way.  

 

4 stars

September 29th, 2002 on DVD for the second time  
    This movie is a lot of fun. Between the high school pretentiousness and the wonderful songs, I think it's hard to dislike this kind of sappy movie.

I guess I have a thing for musicals -snappy rock and roll ones, anyway. Between the operatic Evita and what I thought was the incredible Moulin Rouge, and now this movie... well, I guess I just like tapping my toes!

Joanne introduced me to Grease not too many years ago, after being disgusted that I had never seen it (it's a good thing she had seen Star Wars, after all!). I really enjoyed it, but not as much as I did this time, I think. In the intervening years, I have grown to discover the music of this musical on the radio and the CD soundtrack. We even went to see the live production and loved it.

Because of the period sets and costumes of the day (1978, not the 1950s), the production is set in its ways, and it shows a little around the edges. The colors are not all that sharp, and the sound (except when singing) is more mono than anything else, even though it is supposed to be mixed in surround. But the widescreen really shows off the feature. There are conversations that can only be had on the widescreen version of this film, and the choreography really only supports the wide format. Anything else removes a significant portion of the film.

The main characters of Danny and Sandy, reunited after a summer romance that was supposed to return her to Australia, but instead sees her in the same school as him, show great chemistry. The two leads did some great work, with Sandy being very innocent, not understanding Danny's "cool" behavior. For Danny, of course, image is everything. They go through their ups and downs, with Danny really trying, but he can't overcome his nature -his image. He really does try to be sensitive, but is thrown back to his old self whenever his friends appear.

Sandy, for her part, seems to get along with her friends just fine, even though she doesn't drink or smoke or have sex. Only one of them really ostracizes her. By the end, her genuinely friendly nature has even turned Rizzo over (when she thinks she is pregnant). But she still wants Danny. So she changes her image, at least for the moment. Even though she appears way too skinny, seeing her in that tight outfit did more than just bulge out Danny's eyes! And, of course, smoking was "cool" back then, so everybody has a cigarette in their mouths, and Sandy is even shown how to flick it in a "cool" manner.

What really interested me this time seeing the movie was the way the supporting characters were so fleshed out. Rizzo is the obvious one to point out, as she is loud and obnoxious at times. But she is still a woman, and is still sensitive. She wants love, enjoys sex, and isn't afraid of the consequences -at least until she thinks she's pregnant. Even then, she is not really bothered by the consequences, but the looks she gets around school are enough to make anybody apprehensive.

The supporting character I was most impressed with was Frenchie. She did a terrific job, both in her ineptness at her fashion degree ("it was so much work!"), and in her friendship and sensitivity towards Sandy. Kenickie was going through a "cool" phase, as well, but he also needed to be accepted as a leader. Still, he looked up to Danny as the others did.

I liked the way Danny tried very hard to turn into a jock. His attempts at sports were really funny, and when he finally finishes his track course, it's encouraging to see how far he has actually come in trying to win Sandy. But I am afraid that his efforts have been compromised because of Sandy's change.

Still, the movie had so many great moments, and the singing was a major highlight. All of the songs, even the sappy "Hopelessly Devoted" and "Beauty School Dropout", were great, and wonderfully performed. The dancing was also impressive. I liked the way that part of their "coolness" was the ability to dazzle on the dance floor. But even the quick shuffle on the stands while singing "Summer Nights" thoroughly impressed me.

The DVD contains a short interview with various cast members, from a 20th anniversary special four years ago. It was mildly interesting, but would have been more so if it was more recent. The theatrical trailer is also on the DVD, and seems to give away so much of the film! These are bare bones extras, as there is not even an audio commentary.

For fans of the music and the movie, this is a great film to see, especially in the widescreen version. The film is funny (check out the secretary on the xylophone!), toe-tapping, and well acted on almost every front.
 
   

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