After 40 years, Grease is still the word

Title: Grease
Directed by: Randal Kleiser
Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing
Release Date: 1978
Reviewed by: Scott Green
Rating: PG
FA Scorecard: A

I can’t believe 2018 marks the 40th anniversary for my favorite film of all time, Grease.  I was only 9 years old, but I can still remember the night my sister brought me and a friend to the local theater for a night at the movies.  Thank God the showing of Revenge of the Pink Panther was sold out, and we settled on Grease.  Till that night, my only experience with musicals were the animated Disney films, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Because of this, I thought if something was labeled a musical, that meant it was an all-out family affair. So in my head, I wasn’t all that thrilled to settle for a kids flick.

Honestly, it really didn’t help this impression that after the mushy romantic romp at the beach with Danny and Sandy, the opening credits were animated cartoons with a catchy little song about Grease being the word. As I sat back in my seat about to dive into my bucket of popcorn, something unexpected happened on the screen. Did I just see two naked cartoon butts pop up in the backseat of that car?  Wait a minute….this definitely was not Disney.  And when the animated Rizzo took off her turtleneck sweater and we saw her in her bra with red hearts on it, I KNEW this wasn’t going to be some kiddie fare.  Suddenly, the film had my full attention.

From that moment on, I fell into a wide-eyed trance. With this experience, I discovered there was another world outside of singing animals, playful nannies and flying cars. The grown-up kids in this film talked and acted a lot like the kids I went to school with, and for the first time, I identified with real characters.

It was also the night I developed my very first childhood crush. Over who?  Sandy, of course!  That crush has now lasted well into my 40’s and I still have great admiration and respect for Olivia Newton-John.  Side-note: I recently fulfilled a bucket-list priority by seeing her in concert for the first time. I stood for hours to get in and then got to stand front and center for the entire show. And trust me, I spent it singing along every song through blurry tear-filled eyes. I almost passed out when she started performing songs from Grease.

Now, where was I? Oh, yeah…Grease, let’s get back to that first time.  As I sat in that theater with my eyes glazed over and falling further and further into that magical world of musical cinema, I was hooked.  Actually, obsessed might be a more appropriate term. The fact is that I just couldn’t get enough of Grease.

The characters on the screen danced, they sang, they made me laugh, and yes, they made me fall in love.  And that was just from Summer Nights!  There’s something about the fifties that just screams fun and Innocent, although really, there was nothing innocent about Grease. In fact, I learned a lot about the facts of life by watching Grease.  Those skirt-chasing T-Birds and the hot-to-trot Pink Ladies reminded me of my friends, even though we were only 9 and 10 years old.

By the time ‘You’re the One that I want’ and ‘We Go Together’ were over, I knew something big had happened to me that night. Is this what they call a ‘Coming of Age’ story?  I honestly felt like I had just graduated middle school and was now ready to begin High School. A high school where, just so you know, everyone danced and sang their way through life, love and romance.  I really wanted a dance off and carnival at our school.  I wanted my own Grease Lightning and I wanted to go racing at Thunder Road.  I didn’t want to leave the theater and go back home. I really just wanted to attend Rydell High and stay forever.

That is when I met the magic of movies. If a film can have that kind of influence on someone and make them feel emotions that strong, it’s not just a good film to enjoy. These movies become classics that become legends. These are the films that are never to be forgotten. Classic like this one live forever. No matter how many times you revisit them, they are still enjoyable. From that night on, I have sat through Grease what feels like a billion times. I can still quote almost every line, word for word, sing every song, and still find it just as fresh, funny and entertaining as the first time I discovered it.

However, as an adult, I have discovered a new perspective on the film. I am an adult, a parent, and a proud man of faith and I have become more aware of the themes and message that Grease presents. I need to say here that I, in no way condone the behavior of these characters. They lust after each other, degrade women, make poor life decisions and alter their appearances due to peer pressure.  And in no way do I find the adult sexual humor appropriate for young kids.  Parents should take responsibility in what their children are being exposed to and monitor their viewing habits.

With that said, I take full responsibility for my actions as an adult and I admit that while I may disapprove of the morals and themes behind Grease, I confess it is STILL my guiltiest of pleasures. I proudly display my Sandy Barbie doll, Grease home movie collection, musical ornaments, scrapbooks, T-Bird black leather jacket DVD cover, the satin Pink Lady DVD cover, my Rydell High Letterman sweater DVD cover, Blu-ray, imported digibook, original vinyl record and framed movie poster for all to see. Yep, I told you I was a fan.

With the 40th anniversary of Grease arriving this year, it is returning to theaters again nationwide through Fathom Events on April 8th and 11th. Along with this, Paramount Pictures is also releasing a new 4K digital Blu-ray and DVD. The 40th Anniversary steelbook Collection includes Grease 2 and Grease: Live. Oh, but that’s not all! Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta have announced that they will be reprising their roles as Danny and Sandy one final time for a special anniversary reunion as well. I can’t help but sing from the top of my lungs and announce to the World that even after 40 years, GREASE is STILL the word!

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