[box cover]

Grease 2

Make no mistake — Grease 2 is a bad movie. At times, it's a really bad movie. And yet, how can we simply explain away its strange, occasionally hypnotic appeal? It's not just that it offers some moments that transfix the viewer with Showgirls-level incompetence. It's not just that the songs don't mesh well together, and some numbers plotz right on the screen. It's that, despite all of this, there's something slightly endearing about watching a wonkish lad from England win the heart of Michelle Pfeiffer whilst clad in leather and goggles on his souped-up cycle. Grease 2 has virtually nothing to do with the original, superior film (one of the greatest movie musicals ever), save for a few returning teachers and the mythical Rydell High. This time around the T-Birds are led by Johnny Nogerelli (Adrian Zmed), who's on the outs with the top Pink Lady, Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer). Meanwhile, English teen Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield) is the new kid in school — relentlessly picked on by the 'Birds, he harbors a crush for Steph. But he knows the only sort of guy she's looking for is a "cool rider," which prompts him to fix up an old beater bike and secretly become a cookie-spinnin', wheelie-poppin' stud. Hidden behind his helmet and goggles, Michael then rumbles against the T-Birds' rival gang outside the Bowl-O-Rama, winning Steph's heart. But he knows that, without the bike and the gear, the Pink Lady leader thinks he's just another chem-class boffin. Grafting a bizarre secret-identity plot onto an American landscape circa 1961 (that plays more like 1981), Grease 2 is a muddled wreck of a movie when taken from start to finish. Some songs in particular lack the retro-appeal of the original film's score, opting for a straightforward pop sound ("Back to School," "Who's That Guy"). Caulfield gets in a solo clunker with the supposedly heartfelt plea "Charades." And many pieces do nothing to expand character or move the plot forward at all, such as the sex-ed ditty "Reproduction" and "Bowl Tonight." But... the hidden treasures make the film worth a spin for closet fans. Adrian Zmed reeks of cool in the T-Birds' doo-wop "On the Prowl," while Pfeiffer (in her first starring role) channels her best Pat Benetar in "Cool Rider." Maureen Teefy and Peter Frechette also get a charming turn in the bomb-shelter duet "Let's Do it For Our Country." Regrettably for a musical, Grease 2 is more enjoyable when the singin' and dancin' isn't going on — leads Caulfield and Pfeiffer are a bit flat, but Zmed, Christopher MacDonald, and their fellow T-Birds develop a fun comic patter throughout. In fact, Zmed's shallow, temperamental Johnny Nogerelli is the key to the movie's secret appeal — had the score been better with Zmed in a starring role, Grease 2 would have been a far more worthwhile guilty pleasure. Paramount's DVD release features a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) from a good source print, with DD 5.1 audio. Keep-case.
—JJB



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