To call this one of the most successful musicals of all time would be a HUGE understatement. Released in 1978, Grease was a big Broadway musical for many years before it hit the big screen. After countless revivals, high school productions, a live TV special and so much more Grease proves after 40 years it is still the word. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.
In 1958 Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Sandy Olson (Olivia Newton-John) have had the ultimate sweet summer romance and both are sad when it ends, believing Sandy is going back to Australia. Fast forward to the first day of school at Rydell High Danny reunites with his friends, a greaser group called the T-Birds: Doody (Barry Pearl) the eccentric one, Sonny (Michael Tucci) the trouble maker and wannabe womanizer, “Putzie” (Kelly Ward) the one who doesn’t really know about girls and Kenickie (Jeff Conway) Danny’s best friend. Danny, after they persist him about it, tells them about the girl he “hooked up” with in the summer with some very juicy details. Meanwhile Sandy, whose parents decided to stay, transfers to Rydell and soon becomes friends with the girl group at the school, The Pink Ladies. The group consists of “Frenchy” (Didi Cohen) an aspiring beautician and the first one to be nice to Sandy, Marty (Dinah Manoff) who has many “boyfriends” and constantly draws attention, Jan (Jamie Donnelly) the very quirky member and finally Rizzo (Stockard Channing) who doesn’t like Sandy’s good girl persona. Sandy’s story about her summer romance is full of pureness and love. When Rizzo finds out it was Danny (who she has a history with) Sandy fell in love with, she makes sure they meet as soon as possible, and Danny is forced to act like a jerk to Sandy in front of his friends. Danny and Sandy must decide whether they are meant to be with Danny’s bad boy attitude and Sandy’s good girl ideals. Meanwhile other romances begin within the group: Rizzo and Kenickie have a very rocky relationship (both not willing to admit their relationship is more than just physical), Sonny tries to woo Marty, who is most definitely not interested, Putzie and Jan begin to bond as do Sonny and Frenchy. Outside of the love stories the T-Birds have to suit up Kenickie’s car “Greased Lightning” for a big race at Thunder road against their rivals the Scorpions.
If you have yet to experience Grease then you do not know what you are missing. Sandy and Danny’s love story is one of the most romantic brought on screen as well as stage. Both are willing to change who they are to be with the other, while not completely giving in to the society around them. They know who they are and even if they change a little along the way it is their choice. I know many say Sandy completely changed who she was at the end, but if you listen to the lyrics in the song she also demands Danny change as well. The other love stories are also cute to watch, it almost makes me wonder if these relationship did work out in the end (the nostalgia part of me hopes so but the realistic part of me says probably not). The story, characters and writing are some of the finest on screen, although you can clearly tell these actors are nowhere close to being in or fresh out of high school. John Travolta is amazing as Danny, his singing is way better than I give him credit for. Olivia Newton-John is so perfect as Sandy and her voice is angelic. While Stockard Channing was most definitely not close enough to be a high school student, her performance as Rizzo is solid, as is her singing. Jeff Conway is incredible as Kenickie, and is a very fine dancer. The rest of the T-Birds and Pink Ladies are amazing as well, not to mention the teachers and fellow students at Rydell. Of course I can’t forget about Frankie Avalon as the Teen Angel Frenchy needed.
The soundtrack of Grease is among the best not just on screen but on stage. Several songs from the musical made its way to the movie, but there were some written just for the movie; regardless most of the songs have gone down as some fantastic and fabulous numbers. The opening number “Grease” is the animated opening sequence introducing many of the characters and the crew. “Summer Nights” is sung by Danny and Sandy about their summer love, but both are telling completely different stories. “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” is Rizzo’s song making fun of Sandy’s good girl attitude which makes Rizzo annoyed at her. “Hopelessly Devoted To You” is Sandy’s song as she laments over finding out who Danny is among his friends and if she should still care (this song was nominated for an Oscar). “Greased Lightning” is the big dance number with the T-Birds (can we get a round of applause for the choreography in this number?) “Sandy” is Danny lamenting about how miserable he is without Sandy. “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” is Rizzo’s song about how what she does could be worse, while also lamenting on what she feels for Kenickie. “You’re The One That I Want” is sung by Danny and Sandy as both declare their love for each other and how they have made each other for the better. The final number “We Go Together” is the T-Birds and Pink Ladies vowing to remain friends or more once they graduate high school.
This is one amazing musical that I strongly believe will last for very long time; it is one of my personal favorite films of all time. There was a sequel for Grease, but it doesn’t star most of the original cast and from what I’ve heard it is a do not watch. A LIVE TV special was aired a few years ago, but that might be a story for another day. As stated previously if you have not seen Grease mark it down as a must watch immediately.