Man, is this movie cheesy! But at the same time, it’s embarrassingly entertaining. Cause even though the plot is inane and the direction is corny, the film is really dynamic and it’s filled with good spirit. It’s both a musical and an homage to the glorious 50s. And I’m not sure about this, but I think the filmmakers themselves are being ironic. I mean, they must know how kitsch everything in the film is! It opens on a soap opera-style beach, as Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) are in full summer fling. But the warm season is almost gone, and it’s time to part. Or so they think. Back to school, Danny returns to hanging with his buddies, the ThunderBirds. These guy are hilarious. They all have leather jackets, arrogant attitudes and greasy hair that they’re constantly combing. But Danny is definitively the coolest. Travolta is at his beat: he’s even more fun that in the grittier “Saturday Night Fever”. He’s way, way charismatic, he’s funny, he dances like a God and though he’s not the greatest singer alive, he’s having a good time singing and you know that’s where it’s at. And what about his badass attitude. I love how his character thinks he’s the coolest guy alive, and maybe he is!
So Danny’s back to his old ways, but what he doesn’t know is that Sandy is a new student at his own Rydell High School. She starts hanging out with the pink Ladies, a bunch of slutty, bitchy but downright likable girls. But Sandy is a goody two-shoes, so she doesn’t really fit in. So she meets again with Danny and is shocked to see that when he’s with his pals, he’s really not the romantic nice guy she thought he was. He acts like a bad boy and she’s all apple pie so their personalities don’t really match. But as the school year goes by, things get better and in the end, everyone’s happy as can be.
So that’s “Grease”, a cheesy love story but also a film that gives us a feel of what it was like to grow up in the 50s. Of course, I was born in 1980, and I don’t know if this is a really accurate portrayal of the era, but I know these are the 50s we like to see, the 50s from the Elvis movies, in which teenage is all about slumber parties, car races and football pep parties. The characters hang out at the milkshake parlor and the drive-in, and there’s even a dance contest broadcasted on National Bandstand. Oh, and trust me, this film is way more fun than the overrated “American Graffiti”.
What it’s got that Lucas’ film lacks is great pacing. American Graffiti sometimes feel like it’s just driving in circles, while Grease is jam-packed with cool stuff, including all these unforgettable musical numbers. The songs are criminally catchy, the sets and costumes are pure eye candy and the performers are all wonderful. The film features such classics as “Summer Nights”, “Greased Lightning” and “You’re the One that I Want ” sung by Travolta and the cast, as well as an hilariously ridiculous cameo by Frankie Avalon, serenading “Beauty School Dropout”. The funniest song is “Sandy”, interpreted by Travolta. He’s at the drive-in with Sandy and tries to fondle her but she backs off and leaves, so he starts singing this deeply emotional number. What’s funny? While he’s singing, all broken-hearted, we see hot-dogs dancing on the giant screen behind him! It’s hysterical! As you can’t see, Grease ain’t an intelligent film per se, but it keeps you smiling throughout, when you’re not laughing your ass off. It’s pure fun from start to end, and that’s worth 4 stars on this web site. “Grease” is the word!