Only in the 90's are we fully beginning to appreciate this
70's movie about the 50's. GREASE is a cult favorite that appeals to
everyone from teenagers to nostalgic baby boomers, even people
like me who aren't too fond of musicals. So what's the appeal?
Let's start with John Travolta. He's been enjoying the
comeback of a lifetime these past two years and so have all his old
movies. Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Urban Cowboy,
they get rented out of the video store on a daily basis. People are so
Travolta-hungry they watch the dread American Bandstand reruns
on VH1 waiting for the one episode he performed (i.e. lip-synched)
Then there's Olivia Newton-John. She's actually pretty in
GREASE, you can't say that about her "Physical" and "Twist of Fate"
days of the 80's. This is also her only good movie -- you can't say
anything nice about XANADU, so don't say anything at all.
People also love GREASE because it's the quintessential
50's nostalgia movie. It has everything, from the slumber party and
malt shop to the dance contest and drag race. Better yet, it has a
sense of humor about those days, to the point of including ultimate
icon Frankie Avalon in the "Beauty School Dropout" dream
That brings up the main draw of GREASE -- the music. As
I type this, at least one Top 40 station across the country is playing
the "Grease Megamix," a medley of the three most popular songs
from the movie ("You're the One That I Want," "Greased
Lightning" and "Summer Nights"). Travolta and Newton-John's
songs in the film have become karaoke favorites, and the movie
soundtrack is actually back in the upper reaches of the charts.
Travolta, the archetype of cool, plays Danny Zuko, car-
loving greaser who bosses around a bunch of tough-guy clones.
Newton-John plays Sandy, the virginal good-girl from Australia he
had a fling with over the summer. They parted ways, him headed for
his senior year and her headed back for Australia, only to find
themselves at the same school. Sandy finds out that the sensitive,
caring boy she knew over the summer acts completely different at
school, but she's hopelessly devoted to him anyway. There's a song
about it, of course.
The plot is thin and transparent but has to be that way so
that all the production numbers and requisite scenes (dance contest,
drag race, etc.) can be worked in. GREASE is a fun movie that
features something you don't see anymore. No, not Olivia Newton-
John, I'm talking about John Travolta singing. As far as singing
actors go, he's leagues ahead of Don "Heartbeat" Johnson, Bruce
"Respect Yourself" Willis and Patrick "She's Like the Wind"
Swayze. Travolta still dances in most of his movies, but when are
we going to hear his velvety vocal prowess again? It will probably
be years before the world is ready for Pulp Fiction: The
Copyright © 1997 Andrew Hicks