Friday, September 7, 2007

GREASE - Bad. GREASE 2 - Good!

Over at The Passionate Moviegoer (don't get confused when you link there - dude stole my background) there's a nice little re-assessment of Randel Kleiser's GREASE, which has been coasting on the "classic" reputation for a little too long now. To make this clear, the ones who have declared GREASE a classic are not the film intelligentsia, the lovers of movie musicals or even most standard movie lovers. No, GREASE started to become a "classic" some time in the early 90s, when the first Broadway revival seemed to capture the imagination of a new generation of high school classes visiting New York for the first time. While it was always popular (it's still the highest grossing musical of all time) and a hit with the young people, for some reason it got embraced all over again about ten years ago. So with it came a successful 20th anniversary theatrical re-release, an eventual DVD release, another Broadway revival and all the stuff that goes with it (whatever that is). To a lot of people, GREASE is still the word, but that doesn't make it any good.

I saw GREASE during its original theatrical release and rather enjoyed it, but then again I was a kid and that doesn't count (at least, not anymore). I caught the '98 re-release and was a little surprised by how lame the movie was when people weren't singing; the musical numbers do have that "oomph" that's missing from the rest of the film, since the songs are good and Travolta and Olivia are just right for their parts. But outside of that, GREASE just lies there helpless, a collection of mostly dumb jokes and mid-70s HAPPY DAYS-style nostalgia. In truth, this is its biggest problem, because it's attempting to be retro and hip but it's all so obvious that it's nothing more than a series of lame sketches about the 50s. And that's pretty lame.

GREASE 2 on the other hand...

I love GREASE 2. Loooooooooooooove it. Don't know why, but I do. Oh wait, maybe because it's awesome, that's why? Can't be any other reason, can there? OK, I know GREASE 2 isn't really a "good" movie, but for some inexplicable reason I enjoy it infinitely more than the original film. I think what sets it apart from GREASE, and a lot of other movies, is that it embraces its inherent goofiness. GREASE 2 is an unabashedly goofy movie, made for pre-teens (of which I was one back in '82) and not to be taken seriously for one second, but while the first film only thinks it's embracing the campiness of its era, GREASE 2 actually does. It shamelessly takes all that silliness in and has fun with the earnestness of the time. It feels a bit like an AIP musical of the era, though better made (no disrespect intended, William Asher) and has a hell of a lot more "oomph". The songs are all fun and a few of them are even standouts ("Back To School Again", "Cool Rider", "Who's That Guy?", "Prowlin'") and the cast feels right all around; this was the first showcase for Michelle Pfeiffer's talents and she's got nothing to be ashamed of here, while co-star Maxwell Caufield is perfectly likable as romantic lead. Credit director/choreographer Patricia Birch (mother of Peter Becker, one of the heads of The Criterion Collection!) for keeping the pace moving quickly and for keeping her tongue well within cheek. It's a shame that she never directed again, but I've got to say that she made a good one her only time up. And I know I'm not alone in those thoughts.

GREASE 2 fans, it's time for us to stand united. GREASE drools while GREASE 2 rules! There's no shame in enjoying GREASE 2, so say it loud and proud - I want a cool rider! Damn, that felt good.

And no, I'm not smoking crack. I just like silly movies is all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mabybe you like exeptionally bad films! Grease was actually always considered a classic from the moment it was released back in the 70's, whereas Grease 2 has always been considered a classic by the same people who consider Showgirls a classic. The original Grease sold nearly 30 million copies of iot's soundtrack worldwide. Grease 2 didn't even chart in the US or UK. It also had a string of multi-million selling singles, "Grease", "Summer Nights", "Hopelessly Devoted To You", "You're The One That I Want", "Sandy" and "Greased Lightnin'". That's six hit singles, two of which were US and UK number one hits. People knew the songs as soon as thety entered the cinema. Now.....let's look at Grease 2, as mentioned above this didn't even do a million copies, never mind 30 million. And teh only "hit" single was "Back To School Again" by the Four Tops which "hit" US 75 and UK 71. I rest my case!!! Grease is a classic, Grease 2 is a camp classic, like Showgirls.