GREASE 2 (1982)
MAXWELL CAULFIELD, MICHELLE PFEIFFER, LORNA LUFT, ADRIAN ZMED.
* OR **** DEPENDING ON MY MOOD
Emerging 4 years after the original broke box office records everywhere, GREASE 2 failed to do quite as much business. In fact it was a critical and commercial disaster. It isn't hard to see why. GREASE 2 is a startlingly light and puffy entertainment, but it IS entertaining despite it's many overwhelming flaws. Maxwell Caulfield plays Michael Carrington, the shy-naive English boy who joins the senior class at Rydell High in the autumn of 1961. He is supposedly the cousin of Olivia Newton-John's character, a frighteningly weak link to the original. He immediately meets and falls head over heels in love with Stephanie Zinone (Pfeiffer in her first leading role), the leader of the cool Pink Ladies, much to the chagrin of her ex-boyfriend the T-Bird leader Johnny (Zmed). She warns Michael off and tells him that she longs for "a devil in skin-tight leather" i.e. The Cool Rider motorcyclist of her dreams. Michael reacts to this news by immediately donning his leathers, a helmet and a pair of goggles and buys a motor cycle. However as Stephanie begins to fall for this 'man of mystery', Michael feels unable to tell her the truth, fearful of her reaction. All this is nicely played out with a frequently funny script by a talented group of players. The film moves along at a nice pace and works as a sweet-natured love story. However where GREASE 2 really fails is in its attempts at seriousness. Stephanie's dream sequence, for example, where she is lamenting the loss of her feared dead 'Cool Rider' takes place in a heaven populated by white and silver motorcycles upon which Michael stands in a silver lame jumpsuit complete with matching silver helmet and goggles. Stephanie dances around in a white toga singing (the admittedly rather lovely) love song '(Love Will) Turn Back The Hands Of Time'. I am assuming the tone is supposed to be straight because both Caulfield and Pfeiffer play it with earnest integrity. However, today it looks astonishingly dated, and induces only giggles. Despite the stunning Panavision widescreen photography by Frank Stanley, the production too often veers in the direction of extreme tackiness, especially in the 'Rock a hula luau' and 'Reproduction' numbers. The music is fine, just unspectacular. The highlights include an unintentionally funny solo performance by Michelle Pfeiffer 'Cool Rider' ('just give me a black motorcycle, with a man growing out of the seat), a tremulously sung solo by Caulfield 'Charades' and a genuinely uplifting closing number 'We'll Be Together'. Performance wise, GREASE 2 is strong. Both Caulfield and Pfeiffer are ASTOUNDINGLY good-looking, and they both exude a fair amount of star quality, Caulfield slightly tipping the scales in his favour. Luft is very funny in her Marilyn Monroesque moments of sparky comedy. Zmed is a talented singer and dancer but looks like the bastard son of Barbara Windsor and Erik Estrada, and so it is very difficult to take his characters constant self-appraisal seriously ('I love 'em all, and they love ME......take a tip from the king of hip). The remaining T-Birds and Pink Ladies are all effective, with Maureen Teefy as Sharon and Leif Green as Davey making the biggest impressions. In bits and pieces G2 is a fun and memorable musical. As a whole it doesn't really come off. Choreographer Birch was obviously the wrong woman for the job.....
My Snazzy List of Links