Paul at Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies is hosting Meg and Michelle’s March Blogathon March 14-20th, celebrating his two favorite blondes and the blogosphere is joining in the fun!
Today, I present the film that simultaneously introduced us to the lovely Michelle Pfeiffer and almost killed her career, Grease 2!
This post contains many video clips, if you are reading this in your email, please visit me at Serendipitous Anachronisms for the full experience!
Behind the Scenes
Pfeiffer sang the Buddy Holly song, “That’ll Be the Day” for her audition. She arrived late and hid in the back during the dance call, “there were about 1500 people dancing, they were professional dancers, I almost left halfway through it … When the day was over I just wanted to die.” Despite being neither a professional singer nor a dancer Pfeiffer won the lead role Stephanie beating Kristy McNichol, Pat Benatar, Lisa Hartman, and Andrea McArdle (the first Annie on Broadway!) according to the book, Grease: Music on Film Series. Co-Star Tab Hunter, who played Mr. Stuart in Grease 2, “knew stardom was inevitable for Michelle.”
Rydell High School is back in session with a new crop of seniors ready to rule the school. The two reigning gangs the T-Birds led by Johnny Nogarelli (Adrian Zmed) and The Pink Ladies led by Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer) still epitomize “coolness” at Rydell. Enter the adorable British exchange student Michael and clad in glasses, a tweed jacket, a tie, and a Fair Isle sweater (be still my nerdy beating heart)! Michael has eyes for Stephanie, but Stephanie is not interested. Really? Brains and manners do nothing for you, Stephanie? Those assets are high on my list. And he’s cute too. Sheesh, some girls.
Back to the film, the students at Rydell are only concerned with the annual talent show! Everybody is determined to win the annual talent show. This talent show is a huge deal, there are auditions, call backs, and fully developed musical numbers.
Michael, once again in a sweater and looking rather intelligent, volunteers to play the piano at the rehearsals, so he can get to know Stephanie.
Does Stephanie care? No! Stephanie wants a “Cool Rider“, she sings it a million times. This song is very 1980s it seems like it was written for Pat Benatar; I can’t believe Pat Benatar did not get the role.
Michael pulls the ultimate Mr. Darcy. He notes Stephanie’s objections and corrects them. He gets a leather outfit and a motorcycle and becomes a mysterious masked rider!
Meanwhile, the middle-aged but talented students of Rydell High School have bowling fever and raging hormones. Check out this exuberant musical number led by Adrian Zmed and Lorna Luft, (Judy Garland’s other super talented daughter) about bowling, which is like a Mentos commercial for sex:
And nothing gets one in the mood like the threat of Communism, right?
Later in the film, they dispense with the euphemisms when Tab Hunter “Mr. Spears” teaches a lesson in Reproduction!
Rydell High School: A Magical Place
If you saw Grease, then you know Rydell High School is like Hogwarts but with musical theater Rockabillies, instead of nerdy teenage British wizards. What high school other than Hogwarts can boast a flying car? Rydell! Remember that lame ending in Grease?
Stephanie might be called “St. Stephanie” because Grease 2 surpasses the miracle flying car!
Hold on to your hats, folks: Stephanie’s love can “turn back the hands of time” and revive the dead.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Can Stephanie revert time and bring back the dead? Yes! How’s that for magic?
While the critics universally panned Grease 2, Pfeiffer received high praise for her performance The New York Times said of Pfeiffer:
Grease 2 resembles the first Grease as closely as it can. But most things in it are more lightweight, if that can be imagined. The one improvement is Michelle Pfeiffer, who can’t sing as prettily as Olivia Newton-John but who can certainly outdo her in every other department. Miss Pfeiffer is as gorgeous as any cover girl, and she has a sullen quality that’s more fitting to a ”Grease” character than Miss Newton-John’s sunniness was. Also, though she is a relative screen newcomer, Miss Pfeiffer manages to look much more insouciant and comfortable than anyone else in the cast.
Despite her great reviews, Grease 2 had not helped her career, Pfeiffer’s manager found it difficult to place Pfeiffer, “she couldn’t get any jobs. Nobody wanted to hire her.”
Give a Film a Break, Guys!
Grease is a classic movie musical, but Grease 2 has a poor reputation among critics and movie-goers alike because Grease 2 is pure kitsch.
So let’s review the objections.
1. The casting is a problem, neither Michelle Pfeiffer nor Maxwell Caulfield are strong singers or dancers.
I don’t object to the casting choice because both Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer are incredibly likable actors, their performances are genuine.
2. Grease 2 lacks Grease’s innocence.
I don’t know what standards they measure with because neither film is explicitly sexual, just a lot of talk, and looking at the script, Grease is much more explicit. The only point where Grease 2 goes overboard is “Reproduction”. But, “Greased Lightning” from Grease is way more explicit.
3. Grease was a traditional musical the narrative drives the music. Grease 2 features musical numbers, but the numbers drive the narrative. It’s like someone said “I have a bunch of different songs here, let’s build a plot to fit these songs,” rather than “I have a story, let’s write some songs to move it along.” Grease 2 has an illogical event chain it is not a strong piece of musical cinema.
Okay, I agree with this point, but does this make Grease 2 a bad film? Heck no! Grease 2 is extremely entertaining.
Now I am going to shock you my darling readers, so hold tight: Grease is an enduring classic, but Grease 2 is a better movie.
What makes Grease 2 better? Its leading lady “Stephanie” (Michelle Pfeiffer), she is so much cooler than “Sandy” (Olivia Newton-John). I like Sandy, but Sandy’s a dork. Sandy wears ribbons in her hair and Peter Pan collars!
Now Stephanie is one cool chick, she is tough, and she doesn’t let anyone push her around, including the T-Birds. Sandy is a goody-goody, but Stephanie is tired of being “someone’s chick”. She’ll kiss “who she wants when she wants.”
The film’s biggest flaw is the title Grease 2 invites comparison with the original film.
To enjoy Grease 2, one should consider it separate from Grease. Despite the surface similarities, (mid-century, Rydell High School, recurring characters) it is a totally different type of film. Grease 2 is a campy delight.
Be sure to visit Paul at Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies our host for the Meg and Michelle’s March Blogathon March 14-20th and check out the full event!
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Maslin, Janet. “Grease 2 (1982) MORE GREASE.” Review. New York Times 11 June 1982: n. pag. nytimes.com. New York Times. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.
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