Directed by Randal Kleiser
Written by Bronte Woodward (screenplay) based on the musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
This movie is one year older than me. It’s another one I’ve seen so many times I can’t tell. In fact I can pretty much recite it and predict exactly which line will happen next. Perhaps for this reason I’m never really in the mood to watch it.
Starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John as little bright faced babies in an all singing all dancing love story about high school and being fake to be cool. It’s a classic for a lot of reasons, the catchy songs and the jokes and the charisma and chemistry of the two leads. There are a lot of interesting secondary characters as well which helps.
Kenickie is probably my favourite character now that I’m grown up – he’s so painfully cool, but as a kid Frenchie was my favourite. Because she was so cute and nice and I liked her pink hair. Of course I feel I have to point out the homoerotic subtext to Kenickie and Danny’s relationship. The best bit is when Kenickie asks Danny to be his second at Thunder Road and they both get super excited and hug and then have a panic.
Not sure how many movies there’d been before this one come out but I feel like this one was the forerunner of so many other high school movies. The ones which have a random singing bit for no apparent reason. Grease also addresses serious issues like teen pregnancy, dropping out and boys who only want one thing. It also has the classic trope of jumping to conclusions rather than communicating and refusing to talk to people instead of sorting things out. See: Cha Cha cutting in on Sandy at the big dance and Sandy running away in a huff.
My favourite songs are Hopelessly Devoted to You and Beauty School Dropout, which coincidentally were both sung by Darren Criss on Glee. He’s flawless I love that he sung those two songs.
One of my favourite moments is the bit where the gossip about Rizzo moves faster up the rank of cars at the drive in than Rizzo can walk. Also she’s wearing awesome pedal pushers.
Does it make me love the people? Yeah it does. Rizzo may be a tough girl who teases Sandy for being too straight edge but she has a soft side too and her soulful song about what other people think of her you can’t help but feel for her.
In terms of the story I’ve always found the Thunder Rd race to be very uninteresting/uninspiring. That could just be me of course, but I never really cared for it. To me the actual climax is the fun fair with Sandy’s transformation. There’s a lot of feminist comment can be made over her make over from good girl to Greaser chick but I think it’s important to remember that Danny tries to change himself several times over the course of the movie, he goes in for sports and tries as hard as he can. He takes Sandy out on a date even though he’s embarrassed that she’s not cool enough and at the end he is wearing a letter sweater over his black duds.
Sandy makes the choice to fit in with Danny and his gang consciously, she realises that it’s a thing she needs to do to be with him and decides on her own to make the change. It might not be an incredible statement, but it is her choice and I think it’s important to remember. Esp when he says he’d do anything for her, right before she appears, he says this to his gang, who have razzed him about how uncool she is so I feel like it has extra weight. Of course in the end he doesn’t have to change because she does, which isn’t awesome but whatever.
Bechdel test: Several times over, because there are so many named woman characters. It passes very early on when Frenchie is bringing Sandy to school on the first day, they talk about the school and how Sandy looks. But many times again after that.
Frenchie: Beauty school sure wasn’t what I expected it to be.
Vi: Nothing ever is.
State of Mind: My school didn’t have a graduation carnival. Also… why does the car fly up into the sky at the end? Does anyone know? (Also I think I prefer Grease 2)