It was someday across the late Nineteen Nineties once I discovered Patricia Birch’s “Grease 2” (1982) has a cult following.
Along with fellow theater majors, dangerous film junkies and Gen-X contrarians, I saved assembly rational individuals who’d inform me they not solely cherished “Grease 2” however most popular it to the 1978 authentic.
It first occurred to me that the adoration of the John Travolta/ Olivia Newton-John starring “Grease” (1978) was starting to wane from my very own attendance of a “Grease”-themed pajama occasion I used to be invited to. It was a dorm room stuffed with younger ladies, all dressed on pajamas, and my buddy and I, each freshmen, had been the one guys “cool sufficient” (extra like naïve sufficient) to attend.
Being single and hopelessly nerdy (and never hopelessly dedicated to anybody on the time), I couldn’t imagine my luck in being requested to such an event. It turned out to be a “Grease” viewing occasion, wherein the younger ladies there, all in P.J.s, sang alongside and recited each single phrase uttered by anybody in “Grease” for all the 110-minute operating time.
My buddy and I had been invited to the occasion as a result of we had been identified to be theater folks and singers. After 10 minutes of this, I wished to run screaming from the constructing, however hung in there. I didn’t attend any extra events in that dorm room ever once more.
Nevertheless, coincidentally, and never lengthy after that occasion, the place I used to be traumatized by teen women singing “Brush-a-brush-a-brush-a” together with Didi Conn in unison, I found that one among my closest associates knew all of the phrases to “Cool Rider,” from the “Grease 2” soundtrack. Actually, he knew each single music from that film, which he unashamedly referred to as his favourite musical.
It was not an remoted incident.
Now, as we strategy the fortieth anniversary of “Grease 2,” I think the response shall be extra of a welcome homecoming than the corridor of disgrace response it acquired in its day.
The plot: it’s 1961, a brand new yr at Rydell Excessive, wherein the British, introverted Michael (Maxwell Caulfield) is crushing exhausting on his classmate Stephanie (Michelle Pfeiffer). She’s a Pink Girl and insurgent who solely desires to be with a motorbike adept “cool rider;” Michael takes this gorgeous far, as he adapts the persona of a revved up biking stud by night time and nonetheless manages to be a highschool scholar throughout the day.
Bruce Wayne by no means had it so exhausting.
“Grease 2” is like an underwhelming junior highschool class that takes pole place after a bunch of extensively favored Seniors graduate and depart with legacy standing perpetually intact. I didn’t assume it was doable however that is all in some way cornier than the unique.
A extra of the identical contact it doesn’t fairly get away with: The youngsters are all performed by adults who seem of their mid-30s.
RELATED: ‘Grease’ at 40 – Problematic, But That’s Not a Problem
If “Grease” comes throughout like an intensive parody of ’50s/’60s biker flicks, Frankie & Annette seashore motion pictures and peachy-keen teen motion pictures, then “Grease 2” is an exhaustive tribute to “Grease.” It’s not simply that Travolta and Newton-John left sneakers too large for anybody else to fill however the query stays – why return to Rydell Excessive if the good youngsters have all graduated?
With the absence of its impossibly iconic former leads, “Grease 2” doubles down on returning supporting gamers like Conn and Eve Arden…as a result of when you concentrate on highschool, isn’t it the lecturers you all the time keep in mind with probably the most fondness?
“Grease 2” arrived a yr into the creation of MTV, which not solely captured the zeitgeist of the world, altered the music trade and revolutionized quick movie music movies however managed to make conventional musicals seem like dinosaurs.
The ’80s had been largely a decade the place untraditional quasi-musicals, like “Purple Rain” (1984) and “True Tales” (1986) surfaced alongside MTV-branded dance musicals, like “Flashdance” (1983), “Footloose” (1984), “White Nights” (1985) and “Soiled Dancing” (1987).
Solely the offbeat “Little Store of Horrors” (1986), a minor hit at greatest, managed to search out an viewers with its conventional singing and dancing presentation within the basic musical sense.
In any other case, “Grease 2” fell in with the corporate of “Can’t Cease the Music” and “Xanadu,” which had been each launched in 1980 and cited as the rationale for the creation for the Golden Razzie Awards.
The freshness of “Grease” wasn’t the one downside for the sequel, as nostalgia for the period was beginning to wane on the time, as even “Completely satisfied Days” was on yr 9 of its eleven-season run.
RELATED: ‘Mr. Destiny’ Reveals the Perils of Nostalgia
Regardless of being barely much less specific than the unique (fewer lyrics like “did she put up a battle?”), the boys listed here are nonetheless sexy mongoloids. There’s even a music quantity about it, that includes Tab Hunter and Connie Stevens, which is definitely the clumsiest and most embarrassing sequence.
You may’t point out a “lube job” in a film like this with out it being the type of “Didja-get-it?” double entendre the place the solid hams for the digicam.
Caulfield is so delicate spoken, he appears too shy to hold his personal film, whereas Pfeiffer at the least exudes sufficient pluck and presence to counsel the larger and higher roles in her close to future.
Whereas Pfeiffer deservedly discovered superstardom post-Pink Girls, Caulfield solidified his cult standing with April eighth, “Rex Manning Day,” perpetually devoted to the identify of his character in “Empire Data” (1995). It’s price mentioning that Pfeiffer does lots of her scenes sporting black sun shades, a distancing impact that retains her seeming sport however not absolutely current throughout among the cheesier numbers.
FAST FACT: “Grease” has earned an astounding $190 million on the U.S. field workplace since its 1978 debut, and that doesn’t embody the huge soundtrack gross sales. “Grease 2” generated just $15 million 4 years later.
So, why the does the “Velocity 2: Cruise Management” of the Eighties have a fanbase? Listed here are some doable causes:
The ever-present authentic is so incessantly overplayed, it made the sequel appear refreshing and under-appreciated by default.
Coming 4 years after the unique, there’s a technology of children who seemingly grew up with “Grease 2,” whereas the unique felt “outdated” within the midst of MTV mania.
Maybe former teen icon Tab Hunter singing a couple of intercourse training class has extra enchantment than former teen icon Frankie Avalon singing about magnificence college?
Hipsters took to Stephanie and Michael greater than Danny and Sandy, if that’s even doable.
Concerning the latter suggestion – the reversal of a younger lady because the jacket sporting, hassle making insurgent who stirs and transforms the harmless sq. is much less compelling than the opposite approach round, although the idea remains to be an issue.
As an alternative of Travolta’s Danny inspiring Newton-John’s Sandy to grow to be a nasty woman, Pfeiffer’s Stephanie’s eager for a “cool rider” conjures up Michael to grow to be a mysterious motorbike god (the truth that nobody is aware of its him and he solely wears goggles and a helmet as his disguise, is silly however irrelevant).
Both approach, the notion could be very highschool, suggesting that conforming to a clique or persona that isn’t your personal to search out acceptance and real love. That’s as shallow because it will get.
Granted, each “Grease” motion pictures are largely parodies of “Excessive College Confidential” (1958), “How one can Stuff a Wild Bikini” (1965) and different empty-headed teeny-bopper flicks of that period, however repeating this conform-to-find-acceptance plotline isn’t simply rotten however, sadly, influential, as many highschool comedies and dramas carry the identical message.
I nonetheless discover “Grease 2” to be a cringe-worthy and unlucky observe as much as one of many definitive musical blockbusters of my youth. Even the overdone however pleasant “Staying Alive” (1983), an unlikely sequel to “Saturday Night time Fever,” will get the job performed higher (and that one nonetheless had Travolta).
However, I’m not attempting to worsen the “Grease 2” followers, whose cult has been steadily rising for many years. Look, if going again to Rydell Excessive, swooning over messages left within the lockers and never even seeing Kenickie and Rizzo is sufficient for you, then who am I to face in the best way of your happiness?
To cite the immortal lyrics of “Cool Rider”:
“To a cool rider, a cool rider,
If he’s cool sufficient, he can burn me by and thru,
If it takes perpetually, then I’ll wait perpetually,
No atypical boy, no atypical boy is gonna do
I need a cool rider that’s cool.”