Grease 2 (PG)
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This is a 1982 sequel to the 1978 movie Grease. I must have seen it any number of times on VHS in the mid to late 80s (and maybe the early 90s). I'm writing this review after watching it on DVD in 2016, for the first time in years. I must say, I remember always having liked it more than the original movie, an opinion which is very much in the minority. And a few months before I watched this, I watched the original (also for the first time in years), and liked it more than I remembered. So I wondered whether I'd end up liking this movie less than the original, after all. But I didn't. The margin between how much I liked the movies is smaller than expected, but I do still like this one slightly better. Even so, I can totally understand anyone else liking the original more than the sequel. It's cool. But if you can't accept me liking the sequel more, because you think the sequel sucks... then fuck you.
Anyway, this is set in 1961. (Unlike the original, I didn't need the internet to inform me when it was set, because the year was prominently displayed a couple of times in the movie.) It starts with the song "Back to School Again," which I've always liked more than the theme song from the original. (Not that I didn't like that song. It's good. I just like this one better, okay?) The T-Birds are now led by a guy named Johnny Nogerelli. The others are Goose McKenzie, Louis DiMucci, and Davey Jaworski. (Though I never felt like Jaworski was important to the plot in any way.) The Pink Ladies are led by Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer). The others are Sharon Cooper (Maureen Teefy, whom I kinda know from Supergirl), Paulette Rebchuck, and Rhonda Ritter. (Though I never felt like Rhonda was important to the plot in any way.) Also, Paulette's little sister, Dolores (Pamela Segall), tags along with them, though her sister and the other Pink Ladies treat her like a pest. (But I've always remembered her as probably my favorite character in the movie, despite her negligible importance to the plot.) Anyway, Stephanie used to date Johnny, but she broke up with him during the summer. He's still obsessed with her, though Paulette is totally into him. (And it doesn't take long for him to take an interest in her, but only as a sideline to his attempts to win Steph back.) Meanwhile, there's a new guy at Rydell named Michael Carrington, who is the cousin of Sandy (one of the leads from the first film, who is not in this one). It strikes me as a bit odd that he's British, since Sandy was Australian, but whatevs. Anyway, the only major character from the first film to appear in this one is Frenchy, who returned to school to study chemistry, after flunking out of beauty school in the first movie. So she's the first person Michael gets to know at Rydell, though unfortunately we don't see too much of her, this time around. (Michael also becomes friendly with Dolores, which I always thought was kind of cute, though their friendship seemed slightly less important to the plot when I watched it this time.)
Michael immediately falls for Stephanie, but Frenchy informs him that Pink Ladies can only date T-Birds. And in this movie, I guess you can't be a T-Bird unless you're a biker. (And Stephanie isn't interested in any guy unless, as her song says, he's a "Cool Rider.") So Michael wants to get a bike, but he can't afford one. Eventually the T-Birds each pay him to write essays for them, though they all want it kept secret (and I don't think any of them know that their fellow T-Birds are all doing the same thing). So finally, Michael can afford a motorcycle (or rather, various used motorcycle parts he cobbles together), and then spends a little time practicing his riding. Before long, he becomes the coolest rider around, which I find a bit unlikely, in such a short amount of time. But hey, he was determined. Anyway, he eventually interrupts a potential fight between the greatly outmatched T-Birds and a rival gang called the Cycle Lords (a name I only saw in the movie's end credits); though I believe they were formerly the Scorpions, in the first movie. But Michael's wearing goggles, so no one knows it's him. He starts a sort-of relationship with Stephanie after that, and wants to reveal his true identity, but... that doesn't happen, just yet. Of course, both the T-Birds and the Cycle Lords want to find out who he is and... do bad things to him, I guess.
Meanwhile, there's other stuff going on. Like there's a hot music teacher named Miss Mason (Connie Stevens, whom I mainly know from Back to the Beach). And a substitute biology teacher named Mr. Stuart (Tab Hunter, whom I don't think I know from anything else, but I know of him). And of course Ms. McGee and Blanche are still around. As for students, Eugene (who was in the first movie) has a small role in this movie. And there's a pair of twins whose names I never caught (apparently Noreen and Doreen), who I rather liked, and wished they'd had bigger roles. And there's an upcoming talent show, which many students are preparing for. The Pink Ladies are doing "Girl for All Seasons" (though their production is rather elaborate, and involves students other than just Pink Ladies). Sharon seems to be in charge of that (and I suppose she's another of my favorite characters in the movie). The T-Birds are doing a song called "Prowling," and when I watched the movie this time, I was a bit surprised that their tryout (which was bad) came some time before the song just sort of happens, organically, in the plot. (Probably this is because I'd seen the movie a number of times when I was young, so I could remember all the scenes, but not necessarily in the proper order. In any event, watching it now I find it interesting to reflect on the nature of musicals. Like... how songs can just suddenly happen and everyone's a good singer and dancer, but there can be other scenes where the same people are trying to sing, in a more realistic way, and they're not automatically good at it. You know what I mean?) Another of the scenes I always found memorable was when Louis takes Sharon to a fallout shelter which belongs to Michael's uncle, and tries to trick her into having sex with him. (Which seems less amusing, now. But still, I can't help but feel that neither Louis nor any of the T-Birds are really dangerous. But I'm probably more willing to cut fictional characters slack than I would real people.) Incidentally, before I re-watched the first movie a few months ago, I wouldn't have been able to tell you which of the two movies that scene was in.
Anyway, the talent show happens on a Friday, which I assume is near the end of the school year (so presumably in 1962), though I could be wrong. It's really not clear how much time passes in the movie. But the next day there's a luau, which is reminiscent of the carnival at the end of the first movie. (I should mention that a lot of people seem to think this movie is too much a retread of the original. Personally I disagree. I think there were plenty of different plot points. But there are a few things about it that seem pretty similar. Which is fine; it's not like any sequel could be completely different than its predecessor, when it's the same genre and setting and era, and all that.) Anyway, I like the song at the start of the luau, but the song at the end... well, it's okay, but it's not as good as the end of the first movie. But there are a bunch of songs in this movie that I haven't specifically mentioned, which I find very memorable and enjoyable. (Again, anyone's free to disagree. You don't have to like any of the songs, but you do have to respect the fact that I do. Okay?) And the way the story ends is pretty good all around. (Although... there's one thing I'm not sure about. A subtle implication about Dolores and Davey that I don't believe I ever picked up on when I used to watch the movie, but when I watched it this time, I kind of had a vague idea that maybe it was being implied. And TV Tropes explicitly confirms it, though I'm still not sure. And I rather hope it's not true. But maybe anyone else who watches the movie would say "What do you mean, 'implied'? It's totally obvious and explicit." You might be right. I do tend to be oblivious.)
Well, I guess that's all I want to say. As usual in my reviews, I've left out some details while also probably saying too much (and still worrying that I haven't said enough). But I maintain that it is a fun movie, which deserves more love than it generally gets.