"Compromise Is the Word"
What You Need To Know:
The songs of GREASE are as well known as the story. Though cute and nostalgic in 1978, the movie’s portrayal of romance in the 50s gets an added dose of sarcastic 90s laughter. In some scenes, the audience laughs at the actors instead of with them. It is strange to see a movie about sexual liberation in the 50s, when the actual “liberation” took place in the 60s. Few movies have been so warmly welcomed by families and teenage girls. Though potentially innocuous if taken as pure entertainment, it gives a call to compromise yourself to win the love of another.
(Ro, Pa, L, V, SS, NN, A, D, M) Romantic worldview of sexually active teenagers with some pagan elements; 2 obscenities, several vulgar sexual references & 2 profanities; very mild violence including shoving & fighting; implied fornication, some sexually suggestive dancing & heavy make out scenes; brief rear male nudity & women in underwear; alcohol use & spiking the punch; smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality including lying, looking up a girl’s skirt, being untrue to oneself, & changing your whole character to impress another.
Though perhaps slightly more welcome than the re-release bomb of DIRTY DANCING, the 20th Anniversary re-release of GREASE rides the coattails of John Travolta’s renewed fame, still titillates teenage girls (of which there were many in the screening audience) and continues to provide an innocent though deceptive veneer on the subject of compromising oneself morally to be accepted by another.
The story of GREASE is well known. Sandy (played by 1970s pop sensation Olivia Newton-John) visits America for a summer and falls in love with rebel Danny (played with complete abandon by John Travolta). At summer’s end, Danny thinks Sandy is going back to Australia. He later finds that she has enrolled at his high school, Rydell High. When Danny gives her the cold shoulder with a cooler-than-thou attitude, she goes with another boy and athlete. Meanwhile, the leader of the Pink Ladies, promiscuous Rizzo (Stockard Channing), makes fun of Sandy and sleeps around with Danny’s buddy Kenickie (Jeff Conway).
Danny tries to win Sandy back by trying out for sports and even placing on the track team. When Danny beats out the leader of a rival gang at a car race, Sandy knows that she will have to change her dress and personality to win the man she truly loves. She goes from a well dressed lady to a tramp-like brash woman, exciting Danny and securing at least his physical attention.
The songs are as well known as the story. They work best when sung with a dance routine. Solo efforts by Sandy such as “Hopelessly Devoted to You” seem to slow down the show. All are sung with a wink and a smile indicating that the actors know the material is cheesy. Though cute and nostalgic in 1978, the movie’s portrayal of romance in the 50s gets an added dose of sarcastic 90s laughter. In some scenes, we laugh at the actors instead of with them.
GREASE grossed more than $340 million at the box office in 1978. It still ranks as one of the top 10 video titles sold in the U.S. Over 20 million soundtrack albums have been sold. It has been in the top five on the Billboard pop charts for 244 consecutive weeks as of February 1, 1998. The re-tooled Broadway musical has also brought in a string of actresses portraying Rizzo including Brooke Shields, Rosie O’Donnell and Lucy Lawless.
When closely examining the content of the movie, it is strange to see a movie basically about sexual liberation occurring in the 50s, when the actual “liberation” took place in the 60s and 70s as the movie THE ICE STORM shows. Yet, few movies have been so warmly welcomed by families and especially by teenage girls. Though potentially innocuous if viewed as pure entertainment, it gives a call to compromise yourself and your values to win the love of another. The last song of the movie is “WE’LL BE TOGETHER” and regretfully seems a romantic dream.
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