Dir: Patricia Birch, 1982
Choreographer for the first film, Patricia Birch’s cash in for Paramount Pictures is a lacking, unoriginal and, largely, forgettable musical with only minor interest.
Set two years after Grease, with Sandy and Danny in their flying car either in space or dead from lack of oxygen, newcomers Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfield attempt to be the new Olivia and John but have neither the charisma or comedic characteristics of their predecessors.
It’s the start of the new school year and Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield) has just transferred to Rydell High, Michael is Sandy’s cousin, by the way. An Englishman. And she was Australian. Yeah…
So, anyway, Michael develops a crush on the leader of the Pink Ladies, Stephanie Zinone.
Being a Pink Lady, she’s got attitude and doesn’t particularly like him. Plus, she was going out with the leader of the T-Birds, Johhny Nogorelli (Adrian Zmed).
In an effort to impress her, Michael takes up motorbike riding.
Disguised by wearing a pair of goggles(!), Michael becomes a mysterious rider of the night luring Stephanie into his affections.
Now, I know I’ve made the story sound shite, but…it really is shite.
Judging by her performance in this, Pfeiffer’s resultant cinema success is a shock to the system. There is so much wood in Caulfield’s performance, that it’s right at home in Sherwood Forest.
Maxwell Caulfield is not a great actor. Despite starring in some high profile films with some A-list actors, he never attained real stardom. In fact, the last thing I can think of he was in, was the UK hospital drama series Casualty.
The original film had charm. Yes, it was cheesy, but the songs were good. The characters were likeable. It captured the feel of the fifties, splendidly.
This just fails in every department.It’s supposed to be 1961 but they dress like it’s 1982. The music is more rocky. It feels like an eighties film.
The two leads do not gel. There is no chemistry. Not surprising as they, allegedly, didn’t get on.
Travolta and Newton-John could sing. Caulfield and Pfieffer can’t.
Annoyingly, the opening film showed promise. The entire cast singing Back To School coupled with Birch’s choreographer is the highlight of the film. The song is catchy and energetic, the dancing has brilliant synchronisation and full of life.
Sadly, after that, everything goes downhill.
Several actors from the original reprise their roles, albeit, very briefly. Didi Conn as Frenchy makes sporadic appearances and then just disappears without any explanation.
Sid Caesar as Coach Calhoun makes a fleeting cameo. Dennis Stewart as Leo (Crater Face) makes a number of appearances but it doesn’t add anything to the plot.
The only original cast members who actually have anything to do with the film is the headmistress (Eve Arden) and Blanche (Dody Goodman).
Where Grease was filled with innuendos, here they are toned down, significantly. A song about the sexual life of plants is meant to be taken as a song about sex, with plant organs being the substitute for bodily organs.
The 1978 musical had a multitude of guest stars in the film and the soundtrack. Frankie Valli sang the theme. Frankie Avalon had a memorable role as Frenchy’s guardian angel. Several hit songs made it into the film as background music.
For this, there is nothing. Special guest stars include 50’s heartthrob Tab Hunter, possibly included because of his role in the 1981 John Waters film Polyester. Might have been cheap to get.
The original film took so much money and broke records that Paramount could easily have pumped a bit more money into this. Maybe, if they had, Grease 2 could have been salvageable.
Personally, I think they knew it was crap and just tried to cash in on the name. If straight to video had been around then that’s where this would have gone.
It’s as though no one put any effort into the making of this. The music, the production, the script. Even the actors seem to give up after five minutes.
Grease 2 is only noteworthy for featuring Michelle Pfeiffer in her big screen debut and some of the cast have gone to be in better things. Adrian Zmed appeared with Tom Hanks in Bachelor Party and fellow T-Bird Christopher McDonald has gone on to appear in critically acclaimed films such as Thelma & Louise and Requiem For A Dream. And, not forgetting, Adam Sandler’s hilarious Happy Gilmore.
Trading on the back of the name, Grease 2 was a moderate success but, fans of the original must have left the cinema wondering what they’d just watched.
Go out and get the DVD of the first film. It’s better, catchier and an all round feel good film and ignore this depressing excuse of a film.