According to Box Office Mojo, Grease is currently the highest grossing musical of all time. That’s quite a lofty achievement, and it might color and tint the glasses of some who have yet to see it. Well, allow me to whitewash your particular spectacles; Grease is good, but it’s not THAT good. I’ve seen quite the high number of musicals in my day, and I looked long and hard at what Grease had to offer me that was different from the rest of the pack. What did I find? Not very much, but it was still enjoyable nonetheless.
The plot you know: John Travolta is Danny Zuko, a member of a local gang of greasers. He falls in love with Sandy Olsson over summer break, and when they find each other at school the next year, Danny must choose between his love with Sandy, or his reputation and attitude among his friends as a greaser; a dilemma that will be at the very least relatable to any high schooler watching this film. Since the aspects like the cinematography and the direction were on par and otherwise unremarkable, I’m left to talk about the musical parts of this would-be of the genre. The songs are catchy enough, and there are a few outstanding examples among them (“You’re the One That I Want”, “Summer Nights”, etc.), but most of them are standard musical fare. The one part that was definitely appreciated a little more than the rest was the cast; everyone is damn near spot-on for their characters, from Travolta and Newton-John all the way down to the bit players.
I really don’t know where all the love and hype is coming from. I’ve seen so many musicals, both on the stage and screen, that for one of them to come along and really wow me or throw me for a loop is rarer and rarer each day. Grease, while decent and entertaining, wasn’t one of those musicals. It was standard fare, and a pretty good 1950s period piece, but that was it. Frankly, I don’t even think this should’ve made the list, and reading over the Book’s entry for the film, there really isn’t too much said that couldn’t also be said about a lot of other musicals as well. Still, though, those other musicals seem to also have made the list, what with the extensive musical representation, but that’s a bone to pick on another day. Should you see Grease? Sure, why not, but do you need to go out of your way to see it before you die? Not really.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10