Friday, May 29, 2009

Grease 2 (Patricia Birch, 1982)

Bursting onto the screen like an unwanted skin condition, Grease 2 is a film that exists solely as an excuse extract money from saps and half-wits. However, since I just watched it for free for the first time on a channel that caters to saps and half-wits, I wasn't given the opportunity to throw any cash in its general direction. Which is something I will no doubt regret for the rest of my life, as the peppy sequel is a phenomenal example of to properly convey whimsy and frivolity in a cinematic context. (You see what did there? I started off like I was gonna trash it, then I switched gears and began to extol its virtues.) A dangling branch–a life preserver, if you will–to those drowning audience members who felt John Travolta was too narcissistic and Olivia Newton-John too pristine, this Patricia Birch-directed do over tries to not only to correct those faults, but attempts to improve on the magic of the first film. Jettisoning everything that made the original flick soar into the stratosphere (catchy songs, sneaker-assisted choreography, poodle skirts, sexual innuendo and tight pants), this version's success is exclusively dependent on the probably creamy shoulders of an unknown named Michelle Pfeiffer (Into the Night). She plays a reluctant Pink Lady named Stephanie Zinone, an attractive high school student who is on the outs with Johnny Nogerelli (Adrian Zmed), the leader of the T-Birds (a pretty lousy bike gang, if you ask me).

You might remember that The Pink Ladies wore pink jackets and were mainly made-up of women, hence the name. But the real reason they're called that is because their plausibly pulsating pussies are as pink as a prickly porcupine that has been spray-painted pink. (Just a little kernel of knowledge I felt like flinging.)

Anyway, as someone who has never been impressed by Michelle Pfeiffer or her unamused expression (though I hear she's quite funny in Married to the Mob), I thought she was borderline charming as the senior who desires a "cool rider." Increasingly indifferent towards Johnny and his sycophantic followers (their suck-uppery was embarrassing at times), Michelle's Stephanie expresses this boy frustration through the majesty of song. Picking up on this song-based frustration is Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield), a fresh faced student from England.

The handsome, but slightly awkward newbie doesn't stand a chance with Stephanie as is. (Just for the record, I thought his handsomeness should have been enough to win over her over.) However, if he buys a motorcycle, never leaves the house without goggles, and gets in touch with his inner rebel, he should be able to attain the keys to fair young maiden's heart. It would also help if he sang songs and romped about gayly while wearing jeans. Chicks dig guys who can dance in denim. In fact, it's the cornerstone of western civilization (look it up).

Now, is Grease 2 as good as Grease? I have no clue. I mean, they both have catchy songs and feature choreographed dance numbers where counterfeit high school students frolic in unison. But other than that, they're pretty much the same. Only difference is the first film has the advantage of being deemed a classic by some unaffiliated group of pompous piss drinkers, while the sequel has been relegated to the pop culture dustbin. Which is, like, totally unfair. The amount of multicoloured pantyhose worn by Lorna Luft, Maureen Teefy and Alison Price alone should at least elevate the film's status to misunderstood cult oddity.

I think the fact that Pamela Adlon (nee Segall) was underutilized as the spunky Dolores Rebchuck (a Pink Lady wannabe) was the sequel's downfall. Early on, the pint-size Pamela shares a moment with Maxwell Caulfield outside the bowling alley that was, of course, cute as hell, but also sharp in terms of dialogue and overall tone. I'm probably the only person who thinks this (and this contrarian stance fills my aura with smugness), but I thought Pamela should have been the lead, not Michelle. Sure, the age and height difference between Pam and Maxwell would have made things kinda creepy. But creepy sells tickets, or at least it does in my neck of the woods.




  2. 1. For a brief second, you got me...I couldn't believe there was any way in Hell you didn't like this movie.

    2. Adrian Zmed is totally underrated!

    3. Uh, I certainly did NOT know that...I could have sworn it had something to do with the jackets.

    4. I had the good fortune of seeing Lorna Luft open for Don Rickles in Vegas...even though it was in the 1990s it was still one of the best shows to ever tickle my ossicles, rods and cones!

    5. Oddly enough, I also called myself a contrarian on Friday the 29th of May...the same day this review was posted on your site.


    Mr. Canacorn:

    1. A brief second was the exact amount of time I hoping to extract in the dupe department.

    2. Adrian Zmed is hot. I love last names that begin with the letter 'z' and hairy inner thighs.

    3. Girls seem to like pink. On the other hand, fuchsia, not-so much.

    4. Lorna Luft is hot. But for different reasons than Mr. Zmed. By the way, seeing Don Rickles in Vegas (at any time) is pretty freaking camp.

    5. I was gonna mention the duel contrarian usage, but decided to play it safe and comment on the Kelli Maroney entry instead.

  4. "Reproduction!"
    That's my favorite song from Grease 2.
    Do you remember when Adrian Zmed hosted Dance Fever? That was cool.

  5. I always loved this movie. I saw it when I was growing up. I even bought the soundtrack.

  6. Karim Amir: Yeah, "Reproduction!" is catchy and educational in a way that reminds me of... wait a minute... you have a fave song from Grease 2!?! Awesome.

    I don't think I ever saw Dance Fever.

    Oh, and woo-hoo! To Live and Die L.A. and Glory are coming out on Blu-Ray! Give 'em Hell, 54!

    (By the way, I don't have a Blu-Ray player, I'm just excited for those who do.)

  7. Keith: You're lucky, in that I was cheated the opportunity to bask in Grease 2 as a young person.

    I blame strict Canadian content regulations.

  8. Grease is one of my sister's favorite movies, so she dragged me to the sequel when it was released. I think we may have seen it at a drive-in.

    We just bought a new Blu-Ray player that also streams Netflix. Do you have Netflix yet in Canadaland?

    Oh, this is hilarious:

  9. TONIGHT...ahem...tonight...WE BOWL!!!