Reviewed by Arno Mikli
Rating: 6.5 Beans
id yuo enjoy watching Grease on its 20th anniversary rerelease, or have you danced away to a copy of its soundtrack? Are you thinking of renting a video of its sequel, Grease 2? If you are, as many people apparently already have done, then STOP! If you do, you are letting yourself in for a major disappointment. Grease 2 is a sequel that has its precedessor's weaknesses and none of its strengths.
Grease did do very well at the box office, due in no small part to the very successful musical score and the charisma and performance of the two leading stars Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. It was based on a stageplay that had also been successful.
But it did have its weak points, mainly in terms of its script. For example, there was the huge carnival that Rydell High School has at the end of the year (are all US high schools that rich??), the odd ode to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where Travolta's car flies off in the sky and that soda store where the owner believes in closing up store without cleaning up, counting her money or turning off the light switch properly.
More seriously, there was the disturbing message that the film has that it is better to bow to conformity and pick up bad habits like drinking and smoking than to live a clean life. One can only speculate how many teenagers in the last generation (and this one) have been influenced by that film in doing just that.
Grease 2 has both these problems and more. Specifically, it lacks a good musical score, good direction and camera work, adequate substitutes for Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta (both of whom did not appear in the sequel), and a script that is even worse than its precedessor's.
Let's start with the casting. In the place of Newton-John and Travolta, there are two unknowns called Maxwell Caufield and Michelle Pfieffer. At first, Michelle Pfieffer may seem a good choice. After all, one may ask, isn't she famous and didn't she do a classical performance on top of that piano in "The Fabulous Baker Boys"? She certainly was quite good in that film, but that was well in the future. When she appeared in this film, she was still an unknown, and classical is not a word that comes to mind when viewing her performance here. As for Caufield, let's just settle for saying that he is no John Travolta.
As for other original cast members, there aren't too many of them. Didi Cohn (Frenchy) does appear here - as a kind of mature age student - and even says a few lines. Otherwise she is largely invisible. Quite possibly, this is due to her guardian angel doing overtime watching over her and no doubt regretting that he ever told her (or is that sang to her) to go back to high school. Less fortunate is the high school principal, who appears on numerous occasions and occasionally utters some truly awful dialogue.
There's also the coach and someone who seems to be Eugene, but these two both appear so briefly that if one blinks, he is likely to miss seeing them. Perhaps they have guardian angels working for them, too. The principal's must've been doing detention.
Appearing with these originals are a mighty obscure cast, none of whom demonstrate the abilties or screen presence of the originals, though Connie Stevens makes an interesting English teacher.
But rather than look at these folks in detail, let us move onto the script. It was atrocious. Very briefly, it tells the story of how Brad, an English newcomer and cousin of Sandra Dee, (Caufield) wins the heart of a tough Pink Lady called Stephanie (Pfieffer) through acquiring and riding a motorbike. It's sort of like Grease in reverse.
But it's the way that the script tells the story that one starts to groan. It's slow-moving, and riddled with bad dialogue and ,well, bad moments.
To list some of the highlights, consider these ones. There's the sheer stupidity of Stephanie in failing to realise that the mysterious Lone Rider (which is the nom de plume that Brad goes by for most of this film) is Brad, despite the similarities in height, appearance, the English accent and the fact that Brad has been chasing her for ages. When she tells Brad "You must think that I'm pretty dumb", she is not exaggerating.
There's the confusion by the scriptwriter between Australian and British people (please take note, Hollywood, Australians are as much British as Canadians are), and that motorbike fight scene at the end of the film when Brad takes on five Scorpions, and wins. It's nowhere as exciting as it may sound in a single sentence - its all over in about 45 seconds and lacks credibility and coherency. It does not hold a candle to that car race from Grease.
One must also admire the musical dedication of both the Pink Ladies and their male counterparts, the T-Birds, whose reaction to having apparently caused Lone Rider's death by forcing him off a cliff is to confidently go and sing(??) songs at the high school talent show.
The dialogue is also atrocious. Throughout the film, we get treated to such gems as "Let's just say that I'm giving her treatment for her disease - nymphomania", "Make my stamen go beserk!", and "I've missed my last two periods! That's all right - you can make them up after school". Its the principal who says that last line, poor lady.
Then there's the music. Oh dear, the music! Perhaps with better camera work, musical arrangement and overall direction, it might have been possible to enjoy some of them. As it is, only two stand out for praise. These are the opening number, "Back to School Again", and the barbershop style performance of "Mr Sandman". Perhaps as punishment for the latter, the singers get tied up and tossed into a shower.
But the rest, oh dear, what a mess! It is possible to compare, or rather contrast, quite a few of these with Grease songs. They all suffer with the comaprison. For instance, "We'll be together" is no "We'll always be together", "Cool Rider" is hopeless rather than "Hopelessly Devoted to You", "Prowling" was pure howling compared with "Greased Lightning",
"Charades" is no followup to "Sandy" (even the Grease 2 fan website agrees that it is badly sung) and "Let's do it for out country" loses out utterly to "You're the one that I want" - its certainly not the one that this reviewer wants.
Other bad performances include "Who's that guy?" ( half-drowned out, by the sounds of motorbike engines) There's spectacularly tasteless and woeful rendition of "Reproduction", a musical sex education lesson that comes complete with numerous bad sex jokes. Someone should tell Tab Hunter (who plays the dubious teacher who sings this alleged song) that he really needs to work on his high notes. Let's hope that by now, he has done just that. As it is, the reviewer's reaction to this scene echoed that of one of the students - "I think I'm gonna throw up"
Lastly, there's the camera work. It really could have been put to better use than it was. Most notably, it fails to bring out the best (such as it is) in the film's many group singing scenes. The camera man seems to be trying to show the action as though he's standing in the middle of the crowd rather than outside it. This idea just does not work.
Thus concludes this lengthy preview, which should at least have succeeded in explaining as to why it is most unlikely that there will ever be a "Grease 2" 20th anniversary rerelease, and why even taking a video out should be left to bad movie lovers and Michelle Pfeiffer fanatics.
By way of a closing note, this reviewer will follow the example of another writer who ended his review with the following bit of dialogue from the film. As awful as it is, it summarises Grease 2 quite nicely:
Lewis, one of the T-Birds: "All Right! He [President Kennedy] says that we got to prepare for nuculoid war"
Sharon, one of the Pink ladies: "That's nuclear, Lewis!"
Lewis: "A bomb is a bomb".
You said it Lewis!
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