Review: GREASE (1978)

By Darin Skaggs

Grease was the highest grossing movie of 1978. A musical take on all the ups and downs of being in high school during the 1950’s complete with two good looking stars John Travolta coming right off his other music filled hit Saturday Night Fever and new comer Olivia Newton-John. Teenagers returned to the theaters over and over again to see their favorite stars sing hits like Summer Nights and You Are the One That I Want. That is it really, those are the only good songs and the whole story is pretty confusing, you do not know how plot points reached to other ones.

After a wonderful summer together Danny (Travolta) and Sandra Dee (Newton-John) have to part ways, that is until they realize that they are going to the same High School for their senior year. Troubles come bubbling up when poor old Sandy realizes that Danny will not be the same sensitive soul that he was on the beach, but a phony tough guy who cannot be warm hearted in front of his friends because it is uncool. There are some ups and downs with the relationship, another character might be pregnant and there is a street race that comes out of nowhere.

Grease story wise is a mess. There are some points where you do not know if the two are together or not, it becomes very unclear at parts. It take a look at what it was like to be a teenager back in the 1950’s, but doesn’t really have good transitions or a well-made structure for it. There is a pregnancy plot line that really goes nowhere and a race that might have been building up, but not well enough for me to notice. The whole non-musical aspects are poorly put together and not very well made. Characters are not fully formed. Especially Sandra Dee, she goes throughout the movie being this innocent girl, and is made fun of for it. Then at the end she gets a makeover, I have no idea why, and becomes a bad girl so Danny will like her or something like that. This implies the film is trying to say become someone else, whatever other people want you to be, just do not be yourself. It is very odd and not the right message to send to people. The most baffling part is that these characters are now all friends at the end for no reason. Almost no one was a friend to each other the entire movie and now all of a sudden we are all going to miss each other. Maybe this just shows how lame High School was, but still some of these people were bullying the others and never worked it out and now you want me to believe they are friends.

The whole reason though for this being the big hit that it became was due to all the music and I cannot deny the big songs are fantastic. Those being Summer Nights, You Are the One That I Want and Greased Lightnin’. Other songs like Hopelessly Devoted to You and Grease are okay, but the rest of the bunch is not. Travolta’s drive-in solo song and the “Why am I pregnant?” song bring the movie to a screeching halt. Most musicals have a few just okay songs, this one just has too many so there are more good than bad. And with a story that is somehow hard to follow you and a message that might mean do not be yourself, Grease is a hard movie to recommend, just buy the songs separately.

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