"Grease" is back on Broadway. For better or worse. Which makes me wonder...
Why did I ever like this movie? I should be embarrassed.
When it opened during the summer of 1978, it received reviews that were either unfavorable or grudgingly favorable. Me? I raved.
But multiple viewings later, I can barely get through it. It's either a case of familiarlity breeding contempt or an indication that I wised up. Whatever it is, "Grease" has joined the ranks of film musicals that I wish would just go away -"West Side Story" (truly unwatchable these days), "The Sound of Music" (sickening) and "Cabaret" (always a fluke in my opinion).
True, "Grease" has a couple of transporting musical numbers ("Summer Dreams" and "You're the One That I Want!"), one genuine showstopper (Stockard Channing's "There Are Worse Things I Can Do") and one knock-out bravura moment (the big dance in the gym), thanks to ace choreographer Patricia Birch. But the catch is, you have to sit through 110 minutes of the truly painful mugging of the overaged performers playing the 'T Birds and the Pink Ladies.
You also have to deal with the ugly plot about messed-up peer pressure in which the leading lady (sweet Olive Newton-John) has to slut herself up in order to win acceptance from its smarmy hero (John Travolta, not as irresistlble here as legend would imply) and Rydell High's lowlifes. Why would some parents encourage their kids to watch such soul-killing stuff? But, indeed, during "Grease's" near-30-year reign of terror, that's just what they did.
Check out two reviews of the new "Grease" revival:
Howard Shapiro in The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Ben Brantley in The New York Times.
(Artwork: Signed shooting script for "Grease," and critics Howard Shapiro, left, and Ben Brantley, right)
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Anyone interested in perusing some 2060 of my film reviews, dating back to 1994, can do so by simply going to RottenTomatoes.Com