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  Grease 2 Back To The Old School
Year: 1982
Director: Patricia Birch
Stars: Maxwell Caulfield, Michelle Pfeiffer, Lorna Luft, Maureen Teefy, Pamela Adlon, Adrian Zmed, Peter Frechette, Christopher McDonald, Leif Green, Didi Conn, Eve Arden, Sid Caesar, Dody Goodman, Tab Hunter, Dick Patterson, Connie Stevens, Eddie Deezen
Genre: Musical, Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: It's 1961 at Rydell High School, and the classes are back in after the summer break, though nobody is especially enthusiatic about returning. One is even less so than the others, and he is Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield), who has just jetted in from England with his family to start a new life in the United States, but as he doesn't know anyone there is feeling great trepidation. However, once he steps off the school bus and surveys the scene he notices the leader of girl gang The Pink Ladies, Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer) and wonders if he might not get to like it here...

Well, he might but damn few others did in the four years late follow up to megasmash Grease, which had been part of the seventies nostalgia for the nineteen-fifties, and whose catchy tunes had been stamped into the brains of anyone around at the time, or anyone who watched the thing a hundred plus times until Dirty Dancing came along to usurp its crown as the flick that girls watched obsessively. When John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John were larking about in 1978 the fans were determinedly glossing over the highly dubious "it's better to be a slut than a virgin" message, but there were no such concerns with the sequel.

That was because everyone who saw it in '82, who admittedly were few and far between, were more caught up in the way it trashed all the lucrative elements of the original by making less a knowing rehash of fifties teen movies, and more in the range of an A.I.P. effort of the early sixties, or rather, because that studio were rather good at such cheapo productions, some major studio's try at capturing that teen market with the most soul-destroying cash-in they could invent. Naturally, with its cast mostly comprised of actors deservedly not known for their singing talents and thumping double entendres and a main plot which grows increasingly morose the further it is driven into the ground and a sense of the era more tacky variety show than gleaming blockbuster...

Naturally with all those elements Grease 2 became a cult movie, and songs such as We're Gonna Score Tonight (ostensibly a paean to bowling and certainly not about anything else, kids) and Reproduction (sung in sex education class but certainly not about - oh, wait, it is about that) became ingrained in the fans' memories, not least because oddly this sequel showed up as much on television down the years as its predecessor did, which was quite a lot. Back at the story, there was romance brewing between Michael and Stephanie, but only when he puts on black leather, goggles and a helmet which still don't obscure the fact that he still looked like Michael, though somehow Stephanie falls for it hook, line and sinker. In the meantime, he makes alliances by doing homework for the tough kids.

I say kids, but aside from Pamela Adlon none looked a day under twenty-five, and weirdly Didi Conn reprised her role as Frenchie back to her lessons after failing at beauty school, but then you wonder if people in their twenties (thirties?) are allowed to do that. Pfeiffer and Caulfield did not get on behind the scenes, but neither did they have any chemistry on screen, with her dancing and his singing doing nothing to dispel the clunky presentation. Doing his level best to lift proceedings was the leader of the T-Birds: an actor who had played the Danny role on stage, and with TJ Hooker debuting on TV at the same point, verily 1982 was the Year of the Zmed. Adrian Zmed, for it was he, actually had experience in musicals and it shows, but he's saddled with a jerk of a character here for all his ability to hit the high notes. Elsewhere, vintage celebs like Tab Hunter and Connie Stevens were there for the parents who would get the references, but even those were sparse; the lesson perhaps was not "don't get the choreographer of the blockbuster to direct the sequel" and more "don't push your luck." Music by Louis St Louis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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