Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway, Barry Pearl
Director: Randal Kleiser
Series: Grease #1
Release Date: 16 June 1978
Length: 110 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
“Director Randal Kleiser‘s film version of the hit Broadway musical about 1950s teen angst took the country by storm, inspiring a wave of nostalgia and receiving a slew of Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. In between flashily choreographed musical numbers, the film chronicles the romantic entanglements of a group of high school seniors, starting with a summer fling between greaser Danny (John Travolta) and good girl Sandy (Olivia Newton-John).” — Netflix.com
My nephew just played Doody in his high school’s production of Grease and it lit a real craving to see the movie again. I hadn’t watched this musical in years and had a wonderful time reconnecting to the music. This is a real high-octane singing and dancing fest and you will find yourself singing along and dancing in your seat before you know it! There are a lot of pretty famous songs that come from this musical including “Summer Nights,” “You’re the One that I Want,” and “We Go Together.” One of my favorites is “Beauty School Drop Out” performed to perfection by Frankie Avalon in this version. I also have a fun time listening to “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” and “Greased Lightning” as well as the more introspective pieces such as “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “There are Worse Things I Could Do.”
I found that I missed a few songs that are sung in the live/Broadway versions that are not in this movie version, including “Mooning,” “Freddy My Love,” and “I’m All Alone (at the Drive-in Movies),” as well as others. The main difference that I noticed between the movie and the live version is that each of the T-birds and the Pink Ladies had solos or duets in the musical to feature their voices and their talents. In the movie, the dancing and singing is dominated by the 2 leads played by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. This is not a bad thing, in fact it is a pretty great thing as both of them are very talented and perfectly cast in this movie. There is just a pretty big difference between the movie and the live performance version so don’t expect them to be that similar when you watch them back to back.
This musical offers a rather cliched view of high school life in the 1950s. This doesn’t make it any less fun to watch, in fact, I have to admit that I always think of high school life in the 1950s being just like this and I really had a great time and watched this movie for several days in a row. The good news about this musical is that it is a real crowd pleaser and most people, even those who don’t claim to enjoy musicals, will find themselves liking this one and will get caught up in the hijinks of Rydell High in this classic musical captured in movie form. I just wish that there was a different ending as it is always fun to try to explain to kids why Sandy changed. I don’t think that you should have to change so radically to get a guy (or a girl). Sure, compromise is part of every relationship, but wow, there were some huge lifestyle changes in this movie and I never really agreed with the ending. Still, it is a fun and high-spirited musical with a lot of fun, catchy songs and plenty of humor to keep people entertained.
I am surprised that this movie was able to capture a PG rating as there is a lot of sexual content. This movie contains references to teen pregnancy, masturbation, condoms breaking in the act, expecting sex for a ride in a car, etc. There are also scenes involving sex and showing heavy petting. I cannot tell you how many sexual references this movie contains both in the script and in the music lyrics as the whole movie is basically about sex – should you have it or should you not? I never realized that there were so many sexual references in this movie and we used to watch this all the time when we were kids. Now that I understand what the words mean, I have to say that I would not be comfortable watching it with younger viewers. This movie also contains strong language, underage drinking, and cigarette smoking. Recommended for ages 14 and up.