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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Grease 2, or: Go Back to High School

Given this month is dedicated to good/bad B-movies, the time feels right to revisit another…classic? Though not one of my favorites, will a rewatch help change my tune, especially considering the intricately choreographed musical sequences and rather ’80s interpretations of early ’60s fashions?

The Film:

Grease 2

The Premise:

When English exchange student Michael falls for Pink Lady Stephanie, he adopts an alter ego as a cool biker to impress her.

The Ramble:

The gang’s all here for a sequel to the hit musical! If the characters from Grease you’re most invested in seeing again are Frenchy, Principal McGee and the secretary, the football coach, that one really dweeby guy, and the rival Scorpions gang member who’s an asshole for no reason.

Everyone else who’s back to school makes up an entirely new senior class, from the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds to the jocks and cheerleaders, and everyone in between. Geeky English import Michael has the misfortune to be the new kid just in time for senior year, though the recently reenrolled Frenchy has got his back. After all, Michael is cousin to Rydell High icon Sandy, who apparently had great things to say about the school? I guess if your high school experience ended with a literal ride in a flying car, you might look back fondly.

Michael, a teenager with hair styled in a pompadour, leans against a fence. On the other side of the fence, Frenchy, a young woman wearing a pink jacket, follows his gaze to an offscreen Stephanie.

I guess because he’s polite and wears sweaters frequently, Michael is immediately labelled a nerd and is bullied by the T-Birds. When Pink Ladies leader Stephanie checks on the new kid after an incident, he’s smitten. Unfortunately for Michael, independent Stephanie has recently broken up with T-Birds leader Johnny and will (famously) settle for nothing less than a cool rider. Also, it’s apparently a critically important rule that Pink Ladies only date T-Birds–so important that it never came up once in the first film.

Johnny, a teen with slicked-back hair and a black leather jacket, leans an arm against a wall close to Stephanie, a blonde teen wearing a pink jacket. He smiles, while she looks irritated.

After an innuendo-laden song about bowling, Stephanie is determined to demonstrate her freedom from Johnny, who has yet to accept their breakup. Boldly declaring she will kiss the next guy who walks in, Stephanie locks lips with Michael. Now (hopelessly) devoted to Stephanie, Michael vows to do everything in his power to join the T-Birds and become the man of her dreams. Too bad he’s just made a mortal enemy of Johnny and doesn’t know the first thing about motorcycles.

Making use of his nerdy reputation, Michael begins to write essays for his peers in exchange for cash. Eventually, Michael earns enough money to buy a fixer-upper bike and somehow learn to ride so well that he can do a motherfucking sidekick while driving by Scorpion leader Craterface just in time to save one of the lesser T-Birds from a rumble. Stephanie is extremely into this, especially when the mysterious cool rider eludes the cops and returns just in time to light her cigarette. Even as she proclaims her love to the unknown biker (after they’ve spent maybe half of a day together), she’s utterly uninterested in real life Michael.

Against the backdrop of an orange sunset, Stephanie leans close to Michael. He rests against a motorcycle, wearing all black leather and a dark helmet and goggles.

Meanwhile, the school talent show is on everyone’s mind, largely because the entire student body seems to be involved. Logically, the winners of the talent show will be crowned king and queen of the end of year luau, so the stakes are high. Stephanie’s main interest in the show is the opportunity to see her cool rider again. However, things take an unexpectedly tragic turn when the T-Birds chase off the biker, who takes a plunge from a cliff. Convinced she’s lost her love before even knowing his name, will Stephanie somehow see the mystery man of her dreams at the talent show, maybe in a dance sequence that’s not quite on the level of “Beauty School Dropout?”

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I enjoyed this a lot more than I remembered, but I’d still say the magic wasn’t quite there for me. Watching the sequel to Grease makes it even more apparent that the original musical/film was leaning so hard on its catchy AF soundtrack. There are a couple of reasonably memorable songs here, but they don’t hold a candle (or a lighter) to the first film’s songs.

Wisely, the film does get us the closest we will likely ever get to a Rizzo-centered sequel. Stephanie is very much a Rizzo type, living by her own rules and taking shit from no one. She’s such a feminist icon, dismissing the idea that she exists to be someone’s trophy. On the other hand, the Pink Ladies in this film don’t feel as much like a ride or die crew as those in the first film. We don’t get many of the bonding scenes that we did in Grease, and honestly the original one probably passes the Bechdel test more comfortably.

For better or worse, the comedy is played up here. Some of it falls flat, but we do get a more clear-cut criticism of the T-Birds and their ludicrous macho posturing. Johnny almost always looks like a complete tool, and the rest of the T-Birds are approximately on par.

I did make an intentional effort not to over-analyze this film, but the plot is stretched too thin to make much sense. The talent show gets almost an entire 30 mins–there’s that little going on here. And I feel even less of an understanding of motorcycle gangs as a result of this film. What is even the point of a motorcycle gang? Is it to be a man in your mid-30s (at a minimum) who exists solely to laugh intimidatingly and ruin teenagers’ parties? Because that’s the only thing the Scorpions do.

I will give credit to this film for the nonsensical but momentous return of Michael at the luau (though the luau itself is pretty cringey). I wish the rest of the film had been on the same melodramatic level, but I found most other facets not quite absurd enough to get invested in. On a side note, I don’t understand why the fuck Michael still wants to be a T-Bird by the end of the film, especially when Johnny and his friends psychotically pursued him to the point that they believed they were responsible for his murder (or at least manslaughter). If it had been me in Michael’s situation, I would have very quickly become a horror movie villain.

Possibly my favorite element of the entire film is that people treat Michael like he’s a complete alien who doesn’t know how to relate to people…all because he’s English. Obviously one of the more realistic plot points.

Would my blog wife buy a motorcycle to impress this one or shrug off its leather jacket with disdain? Find out in her review!

1 thought on “Grease 2, or: Go Back to High School”

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