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Grease

They may be some of the least believable teenagers ever to have come out of Hollywood (the Beverly Hills 90210 gang notwithstanding), but for more than two decades, Rydell High's seniors have been proving that they know how to rock and roll — and now they're finally doing it on DVD. (Not that you need a lovely 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer or pumped-up Dolby Digital 5.1 audio to appreciate the story of beach-crossed lovers Sandy and Danny, but it sure doesn't hurt.) But, really, format schmormat: The Broadway-hit-turned-movie succeeds — as it always has — because of its charismatic cast, show-stopping musical numbers, and genuine sense of fun. Olivia Newton-John is all sun-kissed shyness as Australian transplant Sandy, who tries to make a go of things with her summer sweetheart, Danny (John Travolta), despite the fact that he's a lot different around his T-Bird buddies than he was when he and Sandy were walking in the sand. But when the relationship takes a few wrong turns, goody two-shoes Sandy has to decide how far she's willing to go to get her man. It's the stuff that '50s teen ballads were made of, so it's no surprise that it lends itself well to Grease's now-classic soundtrack. Songs like "Summer Nights," "You're the One That I Want" and "Greased Lightnin'" still entertain marvelously, and even smaller numbers like Stockard Channing's plaintive "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" hold up decently. Speaking of Channing, she's a knockout as Rizzo, bringing believable vulnerability to her role as the sharp-tongued leader of the Pink Ladies. Other stand-outs in the supporting cast include Didi Conn — who will forever be known as Frenchy — and Jeff Conaway as the tough-talkin' Kenickie. But in the end it all comes down to Sandy and Danny; luckily, you couldn't ask for anyone better in either part. Travolta — who at that time was still riding on the success of Saturday Night Fever — is a lean, mean dancing machine, and Newton-John became a screen legend the moment she was sewn into the black spandex pants she wears in the finale. Both of the stars look back on making the movie fondly in the 17-minute 20th anniversary retrospective featurette showcased on Paramount's DVD. Along with Channing, Conaway, Conn, producer Allan Carr, and director Randal Kleiser, Travolta and Newton-John share production stories and memories; as the disc's only significant special feature (besides the trailer and a nifty little songbook tucked inside the package), the special is definitely worth watching. English and French 2.0 Surround tracks, with English and Spanish subtitles. Folding digipak in paperboard slipcase.
—Betsy Bozdech



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