Graham Reid | | 2 min read
A fortnight ago when Grease appeared unexpectedly on our small screen we, the Elsewhere household, laughed at the terrible opening credits and thereafter -- both us -- were hooked.
Neither of us had seen it in decades but had fond memories of how silly it was, but by the end we realized what we had missed all those decades in between. How clever it was too.
Between the cheap opening and closing credits (the latter a real letdown when bopping excitement was called for) is a film that shrewdly plays on all the Fifties cliches but dollops in a considerable amount of sex and innuendo, and -- we did know this -- has terrific, memorable songs which work within the genres they adopt.
The songwriting team of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey -- neither of whom did much of any merit subsequently -- knew their way around the tropes of rock'n'roll songs but injected humor into them, as on the Olivia Newton-John/John Travolta duet Summer Nights, the cynical Look At Me I'm Sandra Dee, the weeper It's Raining on Prom Night and most especially the standout Beauty School Dropout delivered in the film by the angelic-looking Frankie Avalon.
Add in the memorable ON-J ballad Hopelesly Devoted To You -- written by John Farrar of Marvin Welch and Farrar, and the Shadows -- and suddenly the Barry Gibb-penned title track is actually the least of the soundtrack.
But as to the film, it's just fun.
It's Happy Days with a whole lot more sex, American Graffiti without the messages. It skewers the cliches of the musical genre as much as those of Fifties rock'n'roll, doesn't even pretend that the actors should have been a decade younger to convincingly play high school students, has some decent set-piece dance sequences and best of all it . . .
It has Stockard Channing as the trashy but sassy Betty Rizzo (Channing more recently seen in The West Wng and The Good Wife but also one of the pivots of the superb Six Degrees of Separation in 'the mid Nineties).
She is worth the price of admission alone.
And that price is pretty damn cheap right now because the DVD of this not-so-guilty pleasure is just . . . Well, it is one of those available in a three for $20 deal at JB Hi-Fi stores here.
Others you can pick up include Boy (essential viewing I would have thought), family favorites like ET, Despicable Me, Avatar and The Croods, classics like The Birds and Saving Private Ryan, and popular things like Braveheart (if you must), Love Actually, Forrest Gump, Ice Age . . .
That's a good deal . . . but if you have kids at That Certain Age who ask "What does that mean?" then you might want to keep Grease back until after they've gone to bed.
Then you can settle back and shamelessly enjoy it and say things like, "God, wasn't he so handsome back then?"