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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Grease

Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John
Director: Randal Kleiser
Rated: PG
RunTime: 110 Minutes
Release Date: July 1978
Genres: Classic, Comedy, Romance, Music

*Also starring: Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway, Didi Conn, Eve Arden, Sid Caesar, Joan Blondell, Edd Byrnes, Lorenzo Lamas, Michael Tucci

Review by Andrew Hicks
3½ stars out of 4

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) in.

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 sequence.

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 Musical.

Copyright 1997 Andrew Hicks

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