Sunday, May 11, 2014

"Grease" Is Still the World

First of all, Happy Mother's Day to all mommies, including those whose children are four-legged or feathered.

I decided I'd try something a little different today. I'm still a fan of the Beatles show, but I'm tired of the same old themes and more-or-less the same show. Yesterday on the American Top 40 re-run, Casey Kasem mentioned a list of singers appearing in films. Among the ones he brought up was Andy Gibb in "More Grease." I suspected Casey meant Grease 2, but that came out in 1982, not 1980...and sans Gibb. A trip to Wikipedia and the film's trivia section of the Internet Movie Database gave me at least some answers. Grease 2, like fellow early 80s camp musical Xanadu, had an infamously troubled production with a rushed script that was unfinished when filming started, a director who had never done a movie before (and never would again), and more budget than organization. (And Gibb apparently failed his screen test for the role that ultimately went to Maxwell Caulifield.)

I ate Strawberry-Coconut Pancakes and half of a grapefruit for breakfast while listening to the Grease 2 soundtrack. For all its problems, there's just as many things that work, and many of them are on the soundtrack. The opening number, "Back to School Again," is dynamic, and the song is by far the best in the movie. The Pink Ladies' "Girl For All Seasons" actually does look and sound like something a group of teenagers would throw together in 1961 for a talent show (other than Johnny was really right about Paulette's Miss June costume being too skimpy for high school). Several songs, including "Cool Rider" and "Charades," benefit from the full versions being included. They get cut off or faded out early in the movie.

Work was on-and-off busy, but otherwise not that bad. Between a nice day and the holiday, most people were in a good mood and just wanted to run off to barbecues. I suspect many people went down to the shore for the weekend. We had plenty of help, and there were no major problems. This time, I was easily able to shut down with no relief.

When I got home, I changed into regular clothes, then made chicken cutlets in lemon sauce and spinach and mushrooms for dinner while listening to the soundtrack to the first Grease film. As much as I do enjoy the first film, the whole thing with Sandy changing herself so suddenly at the end has always bothered me. On the other hand, the score is still a heck of a lot of fun, from Sandy and Danny's opposing viewpoints in "Summer Nights" to the energetic finale "We Go Together." My favorite part was always the dance, with its toe-tapping numbers and some of the hilarious quips from the kids (love Sonny "washing his hands").

I finished out the night with mango ice cream and the cast album from the original 1972 Broadway Grease. The big difference here, other than a little more profanity, is every T-Bird and Pink Lady gets a number of their own. Songs that appear in the background in the film, like "Freddy My Love" and "Those Magic Changes," originally fleshed out the other characters besides Danny and Sandy (Marty and Doody respectively in this case). On the other hand, Danny's number when he sees the changed Sandy in the finale, "All Choked Up," sounds more Elvis but lacks the zip of its movie replacement, "You're the One That I Want." Not to mention, the cast sounds even older than the performers in the two movies look.

The Grease you end up with depends on which cast and songs you prefer. There were revivals in 1994 and 2007, and the cast of Glee evidently recorded their own versions of the songs two years ago. The first movie is the most famous, but the second isn't nearly as bad as its reputation suggests, and the Broadway show has its own charms and is where it all began.

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