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"Conventionality belongs to yesterday"
on 11 February 2003
Grease is everything a musical film should be. It is a visual and aural feast that has captured the imaginations of audiences for over 25 years. Everything is larger than life and the action occurs amidst a riot of 1950s colour. Who cares if the cast is largely composed of 30-somethings playing teenagers? The key to Grease's success is not realism, but the enormous amount of infectious energy exuded by the cast.
This zest for life is particularly apparent in the lively and eminently sing-able chorus song-and-dance numbers. The tunes of retro party favourites such as 'Greased Lightning' and 'You're The One That I Want' will probably be familiar to many viewers, but lesser known songs, including the short and sarcastic 'Look At Me I'm Sandra Dee' and 'Beauty School Drop-Out' (with Frankie Avalon in the role of guardian angel) are also fun toe-tappers.
Musicals work best when, like Grease, they concentrate on the music rather than the plot; however, the story here is completely adequate. Sandy and Danny had a summer fling at the beach, but at school Danny has an image to uphold - which Sandy doesn't really fit - so their senior year at Rydell High is spent in a daze of "will-they-won't-they" teenage angst.
John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John set the screen alight as Danny and Sandy; there are some fabulous character roles in the "Pink Ladies" and "T-Birds" school cliques, and some very funny cameos - particularly the pairing of Principal McGee and Blanche the office lady. There are sexual innuendoes aplenty if you look hard enough, and despite the fact that the movie is set half a century ago, the viewer is led to conclude that teenagers have been, and will always be, teenagers.