Grease 2 (1982) – So wrong, but it feels so right!
Okay, it’s time to come clean. My family – unironically, genuinely – loves Grease 2. As my niece puts it, we are probably the only people in the world who voluntarily watch it over and over. Someone sings one line, and there’s always someone else who will pick up the song, no prompting needed. As another niece says, “we’re such losers.”
It’s not Grease. By God, not by a long shot. That movie is a classic for so many reasons. You have superstars like John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, incredible songs (the theme song was written by Barry Gibb and performed by Frankie Valli, man!), and a simple yet quite believable story line.
Grease 2? Not so much. Though to be fair, the songs are great. (As I’m writing this, I’m listening to the soundtrack and it’s taking me a while to type because I have to stop every few sentences to sing at the top of my lungs.) Can you listen to “Reproduction” without singing along? It’s about pollination and bees and flowers!
“Girl for all Seasons” is sweet and sentimental in the best way.
And “Who’s That Guy”? Come on, how can you not love this over-dramatic song as everyone simply cannot figure out, who is this guy?
At this point, I think it’s best to explain what this movie is about, and why they don’t know who the hell this guy is. Stephanie Zinone (a gorgeous, luminous Michelle Pfeiffer) is the head of the Pink Ladies, while Johnny Nogerelli (Adrian Zmed) is the leader of the T-Birds. Their code states that Pink Ladies are T-Bird chicks, but Stephanie, don’t you know, doesn’t want to be someone’s trophy. What she wants is a “Cool Rider”.
Meanwhile, Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield), fresh from England, falls in love with Stephanie. But he’s a complete nerd. (He’s also a cousin of Grease‘s Sandy, and apparently hers is a family of lovable dweebs.) He’s not a T-Bird, or a “Cool Rider”, so he doesn’t have a chance! Or does he? As Michael, Stephanie doesn’t give him the time of day. So he saves up money to buy a ‘cycle, and gets so good that as a “Cool Rider” he actually wows her. But he always wears his goggles so Stephanie doesn’t know who he is! She falls in love anyway, and this doesn’t sit well with Nogerelli. On the night of the big talent show, the T-Birds challenge the “Cool Rider” to a race, in which he apparently drives off a cliff to his death. Stephanie is heartbroken, yo. And while she’s supposed to be performing her part in “Girl for all Seasons”, she suddenly goes into this completely spontaneous song about love turning back the hands of time and whatnot.
I mean, look, he’s in biker heaven! And with no shirt.
Up until this point, the story is still fun to follow. Flimsy, yes, though still fun. But when Stephanie sings her love song to her dead biker, the filmmakers ask too much from us. I know that the songs in the movie are just devices to move the story along. Now are we supposed to believe that the audience in the world of the movie just accepts her made-up-on-the-spot song? What the hell, movie?
Stephanie, please don’t cry.
Oh, it all seems so unfair! Just when I found you I lost you!
That doesn’t matter now. The only thing that matters is that I love you. And you’re the only one who can keep our love alive! So Stephanie, don’t forget me.
Really, it’s amazing this never won an Oscar for its screenplay.
It’s a cringe-fest from here on out. “Cool Rider” turns out to be alive, because he’s such an awesome rider that he can make the jump over Dead Man’s Curve. He reveals who he is at the graduation luau, everybody realizes that it was nerdy Michael all along, Stephanie kisses him, and Nogerelli makes him a T-Bird on the spot. Yay!
Do you think this would make us hate the film? No! This is exactly why we love it! It’s so bad, it’s good! And I mean, look at Michelle Pfeiffer:
Is she magical, or what? I would wear her clothes, as is, right now. And she’s so cool when she dances.
Pfeiffer must have really good agents, because she never talks about this movie when she appears on talk shows. Nobody ever brings it up! Not even Leno, who used to specialize in embarrassing his guests. It’s almost supernatural how no one ever talks about it. We have the vinyl soundtrack album (yes, you read that right), and my niece’s goal in life is to meet Michelle Pfeiffer and have her sign it.
And Maxwell Caulfield. Let’s talk about him for a bit. According to my family, I had such a humongous crush on him (at 3 years old!) that I couldn’t look at the screen when he was on, and I had to go to the bathroom. Whatever. I don’t remember that.
It might still be happening now, though.
Look at him!
Did anybody look this good in jeans and a button-down in 1961?
I think “Score Tonight” encapsulates everything about why we love Grease 2. Adrian Zmed’s epically high note? Lorna Luft’s sneer and growl as she sings “Hey Johnny Johnny go for that strike…”? They’re ah-mazing! In fact, everyone is just having fun even if they look silly. People spinning around and doing splits in a bowling alley – they know they look silly, but they don’t care! And look how Zmed just owns the shit at the beginning of the song. He’s bowling, but he’s cool as hell.
Should we be ashamed that we love Grease 2? Probably. Are we? Not a bit!