Rated PG - Running time: 1:50 - Re-released 3/27/98

Ever since George Lucas's highly profitable re-release of 1977's Star Wars last year, all the big movie companies have been flipping through their records to see what great films they might have on hand to make some quick, trouble-free cash. It's that Baby-Boomer phenomenon: whatever was cool then is cool again, except now it can yield big bucks. What's interesting about Randal Kleiser's Grease, however, is that it was a nostalgia film to begin with. So here we have a re-release in 1998 of a film from 1978 about a story set in 1958. Kind of like a hypercube.

What does this say about the movie industry? It seems like it would be crazy to spend millions on a new film, risking a flop, when you've got shelves full of sure-fire classics. Will this lucrative practice of re-releasing old films become a regular occurrence? Will the expensive new products be able to compete with the relatively cost-free oldies? And consider this: should the re-releases be nominated for Oscars? Imagine if Titanic had been beaten out Monday night by, say, Casablanca or Gone With The Wind. Who knows, maybe the best movie of 2001 will be 2001.

Grease is great, of course; do I really need to do a plot summary? The class of 1958 meets back at Rydell High in the fall of its senior year. Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John), who had a romantic fling over the summer, are now classmates. But Danny can't be lovey-dovey in front of his tough friends, the T-Birds (Jeff Conaway, Barry Pearl, Michael Tucci, and Kelly Ward), so he gives Sandy the cold shoulder, even though he really still cares. Meanwhile, Rizzo (Stockard Channing) and the rest of the Pink Ladies (Didi Conn, Jamie Donnelly, and Dinah Manoff) make fun of Sandy for being a goody-two-shoes while Danny and his friends work on their muscle car.

Danny and Sandy get together, break up, get back together, break up again, and get back together, all in less than two hours. Everybody sings and dances their way through such teenage problems as flunking out of beauty school, being challenged to drag race, and possibly being "PG" after a few intense moments in the back of a '57 Chevy. Aaaah, the good old days.

The songs, most of which are taken from the 1972 Broadway musical, are eminently fun and energetic. So are the performances, and though this movie doesn't pretend to be a classical work of cinema, it still makes for a heck of a lot of fun. I remember seeing it several times with my 8th-grade friends and memorizing the entire soundtrack. Travolta and Newton-John were riding high in popularity 20 years ago, he from his recent success in Saturday Night Fever (1977), and she from her never-ending string of pop music hits (and I'm not talking about "Let's Get Physical").

Of course, everything turns out okay, and our friends literally sail off into the sky together in their convertible on graduation day. Grease wraps up with a sentimental message extracted from Sandy's saga: if you want to make friends, take up smoking and dress like a hooker. Now, that's family values. ****

Copyright 1998 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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