Where do I even start with this one? I’m sure I don’t have to give you a plot overview. Hmmm, maybe I’ll tell you how I too was dumped at the drive-in…
So, I’m going to go way, way back. Way back to one of those Sunday afternoons with my parents and their rescued Super 8 movies. They had managed to get a whole lot of these precious movies that would have made their way to the rubbish pile (how could someone be so cruel!!!) when a local store switched to video cassettes . Not being able to sit through yet another viewing of The War Wagon they asked me if we shouldn’t try something different. Maybe that box marked Grease (1978)? I distinctly remember not wanting to watch it – somehow I was nervous of the unknown. Almost scared. Silly, but yes. Who knows? They told me to give it a go…after all, we can always stop. Oh my! What a mistake…I think I watched Grease over and over and over…and… But, the catch is this…we were missing real 4 of 4 and therefore my Grease experience ended with Sandy running out, not only on Danny, but also on me at the drive-in. You know what? I was OK with that. There was a certain magic about leaving it there. But then came a revival of Grease while I was in primary school (oh, I was so proud that I had seen it way before anyone else). I still didn’t want to see the end. And I didn’t.
You won’t believe that I only saw beyond the drive-in scene in 2003 when I bought myself the DVD (I was collecting all my Super 8 movies in DVD version as unfortunately the projectors and the reels had lived their lives) and somehow, watching this changed the magic that was Grease for me. Yes, admittedly, I had also grown up.
I don’t think Grease is a bad movie. I still watch it on the odd occasion and enjoy it more these days than back in 2003. I also see it totally differently as the lyrics and dialogue are much clearer on DVD than they were on Super 8. Amazing how some lines I’d never properly heard before (possibly also being a child you hear things differently). I still have a good chuckle at the “high school” kids who are actually all much older (John Travolta was 24, Olivia Newton-John was already 30!) especially Rizzo‘s date Leo who seemed ancient. Oh, and Cha Cha, the “hottest date there”.
As for the soundtrack, Greased Lightnin’ and Summer Nights will probably feature at parties and functions for a long time to come. I recall impatiently waiting out Hopelessly Devoted To You and Beauty School Dropout – those were my absolute worst scenes (and songs).
While Grease (as with most movies) is an idealised, fictional representation of school, the values are very much timeless. Then, as today, there is peer pressure and fitting in even if you aren’t really that person. But, likewise there are values of friendships, of image. Of crushes and first loves. Of school… Times and technology might have changed but I think even the children of today can identify with Danny acting all cool and snotty when his friends are around and being the nice and polite guy when he is alone with Sandy, or, at least when he was with her on holiday.
Grease will remain special for me, no matter what the critics say and no matter how dated it may become. It was part of growing up and will forever hold a certain nostalgic value.
PS: Did you know that Michael Biehn has a brief appearance in Grease? Once you know where then it is so obvious. See if you can spot him.