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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

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1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
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Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

As the petticoats fly, the kids in GREASE engage in wild dance gymnastics. Their high school hop is being televised, and the dancers are participating in a national dance-off to pick the best teenage dancers in America. 23-year-old John Travolta as greasy-haired Danny Zuko and 29-year-old Olivia Newton-John as goodie-two-shoes Sandy Olsen hope to be the winners of the local contest. In this parody of the 50s made from the perspective of the late 70s, their ages present no problem. Newton-John, especially, looks exactly like an innocent, young high school senior.

A new print with a remastered Dolby soundtrack has been released to the theaters to celebrate the movie's twentieth anniversary. Although Travolta's SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, which he made the year before, would have been more deserving of a reissue, GREASE is nostalgic, silly fun that is well worth another run. And for those, like this reviewer, who haven't seen the film in a long time, they may be surprised at how raunchy the humor is. Throwing non-stop sexual insults at each other, the kids are typical teenagers. There's even a hilarious condom scene that happens in the backseat of a car parked at one of those infamous lover's lanes that were so popular in the 50s and 60s. For a PG movie - they didn't have PG-13 in 1978 - the humor is surprisingly frank.

Danny, who swivels his hips like Elvis, acts the part of the tough kid, which he isn't. His gang of pseudo-tough guys, called the T-Birds, fights the other gang with a car race rather than fists. His girlfriend, Sandy, dresses in virginal whites and creamy pastels. She acts like she would wash her own mouth out with soap if she accidentally said "darn."

Today, it seems hard to believe that neither Travolta nor Newton-John was the first choice for the roles. In fact, Newton-John wasn't even sure if she could act the part, so she demanded a screen test first to see if she was credible.

In sharp contrast to Sandy is her friend Rizzo, who dress in voluptuous, snug red outfits reminiscent of clothes found in wild west saloons. Rizzo, played with a beautiful swagger by Stockard Channing, provides the hard-edged contrast this cream puff of a movie needs. When she thinks she is pregnant, her character also injects the only serious subplot.

The boys hang around and talk about girls who "put out." The girls have slumber parties, where they sip pilfered booze and do exercises in vain attempts to make their breasts larger. The funniest scene in the picture happens at the slumber party, when one of the girls does a great mimic of the chipmunk that did the old Ipana toothpaste jingle - "Brusha. Brusha. Brusha. Get the new Ipana."

The most compelling reason to see the movie is none of the above. It is the energetic and good-spirited song and dance numbers in which the movie really comes alive. Although none of them are great, they all go down as easily as a chocolate malt from the kids' favorite soda fountain.

GREASE runs 1:50. It is rated PG for sexual humor and situations and for brief male nudity. Although there were girls seven and younger in our audience, I am going to be conservative and recommend the picture for kids around 10 and up, given the very explicit sexual humor and situations in the movie.

Copyright 1998 Steve Rhodes

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