Everyone knows the original “Grease”, from 1978. Basically, a teen cool boy and studious girl spend one idyllic summer together on the beach before they go their separate ways- him to Rydell High School, her to Australia. Then they meet up again weeks later in school, only for her to find that he’s the leader of cool clique, the T-Birds, and doesn’t want to tarnish his reputation. After many sing songs and teenage angst, she changes her appearance, they fly off in a car together, The End.
That movie has always been somewhat of a guilty pleasure to me. But what even a greater guilty pleasure to me is the sequel, “Grease 2”, which succeeded the first movie by four years. Many fans of “Grease” tend to disregard the fact that this sequel even exists. I may be in the minority, but for a while, I favoured “Grease 2” over the original. It’s not that the original was bad, per se, I just felt that there was more going on in the sequel.
“Grease 2” is merely a rehash of the first film’s plot, only this time round, it’s the guy who changes for his love interest, who is a member of the Pink Ladies, and not vice versa. To me, the songs are catchier, the comedy doesn’t feel as forced, and it’s so corny you’ll actually enjoy it all the more. There had been plans to make a franchise of “Grease” films, as well as a TV show, but once the sequel proved to be a bomb at the box office, those plans were well and truly thwarted.
In 1961,Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield) is an exchange student from England, and cousin of “Grease”‘s Sandy Oleson (Olivia Newton-John). He falls in love with Pink Lady leader Stephanie (Michelle Pfeiffer), but he learns from Frenchie (Didi Conn), one of the only returning characters from the original, that he needs to be a T-Bird in order to have a chance with her. What’s a nerdy guy like him to do?
Obviously, this entails doing the T-Bird’s homework for cash, learning how to drive a motorbike and moonlighting as a mysterious bad boy biker, with only goggles to obscure his face. (This disguise somehow fools everyone, despite half of his face still being visible, but I digress). While Stephanie likes the smart, nice guy side of Michael, she becomes smitten with his cool biker persona. Will Michael win her heart by just being himself? Only time, and corny, angsty tunes, will tell.
The thing about “Grease 2” that I never used to like while growing up was the fact that there are only a handful of characters returning from the first movies, such as Frenchie, Principal McGee (Eve Arden), her scatty assistant Blanche (Dody Goodman), Coach Calhoun (Sid Caesar) and butt monkey geek Eugene (Eddie Deezen). It’s nice to see a few familiar faces, as none of the former cast members appear, although we never find out what happens to the original characters, namely Sandy and Danny (John Travolta). Frenchie, my favourite character from “Grease”, has a mini subplot about going back to Rydell after dropping out in the original, but promptly disappears halfway through the run time, and it’s never properly resolved. This is partially due to the script having not been completely finished by the time filming commenced.
The songs of “Grease 2” may not hold a candle to “You’re the one that I want”, “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, or “Summer Nights”, but I couldn’t get the songs of the sequel out of my head for days after watching this flick. Notably, there’s “Let’s do it for our Country” (where T-Bird Louis (Peter Frechette), attempts to trick uptight girlfriend Sharon (Maureen Teefy) into being intimate with him, under the pretense of a war breaking out, but she, for some reason, thinks he’s alluding to joining the army!) “Cool Rider” (where Stephanie expresses her desires for, you’ve guessed it), “Score Tonight” (a song about hooking up, disguised as a song about bowling, with a plenitude of double meanings to boot) and, most famously, or rather infamously, “Reproduction” (where a nervous substitute teacher (Tab Hunter) tries to give a talk on sex to his class of hormone driven 20 something teenagers, who are becoming more experienced in that particular subject matter. Yes, it’s just as hilariously creepy as it sounds).
Most of the acting is strained, to say the least. Maxwell Caulfield blamed the movie for ruining his career, but I feel that he comes off as very likable, compared to Adrian Zmed’s Johnny, Stephanie’s ex and T-Bird leader. Michelle Pfeiffer, in her first major role, is not at her best here, but she has her moments of interest as well.
While it’s no “The Empire Strikes Back” or “Godfather Part 2”, “Grease 2” still manages to be an entertaining, if tremendously silly sequel, and for that reason, it earns three stars out of five. It’s worth viewing for “Reproduction” alone, if only to see how unbelievably over the top the number really is, as well as the supporting cast members. Even if you weren’t a fan of “Grease”, I’d recommend viewing the sequel just to giggle at the overall silliness of the movie. Grease 2 is the word!