Grease is one of those movies. We’ve all seen it at least a dozen times. We’ve sung along to the songs during karaoke. Grease has been the go to musical for high schools, colleges and local community theater groups for decades.
On June 16th, Grease will be celebrating its 40th anniversary.
On the surface, it’s just the simple will they or won’t they story set in high school. Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) have a brief relationship one summer. After the summer ends, they don’t expect to see each other again. Then Sandy transfers to Danny’s high school. Danny is the bad boy, Sandy is the good girl. Their relationship, such as it is, is not easy.
This narrative is the blue print for many high school romance movies that have come down the pike since 1978. While the movie is cute and predictable, I have a few issues with it.
- The actors do not look like they are high school. While some creative teams who are also working on films/television shows set in high school have cast actors who look young enough to be in high school, it’s clear that most of the cast were way past their teens when they made this movie.
- The amount of sexism is astounding. Granted, the film is set in 1950’s, but still hard to ignore the sexism coming out of the script.
- Danny tried to force himself on Sandy and Marty (Dinah Manoff) is nearly given a roofy by Vince Fontaine (Edd Byrnes).
- Rizzo (Stockard Channing) has more depth than Sandy. How is it that Sandy is the lead female character, but Rizzo has the better character arc?
- Sandy changes for Danny. While Danny tries to change, he really doesn’t.
- I hate to say it, but Danny and Sandy are not going to last. While they do ride off into the sunset at the end of the movie, that sunset is short-lived at best.
Regardless if the bullet points above, Grease has something going for it. It’s been popular for 40 years for a reason.
Happy 40th birthday, Grease.