Is 'Grease' Really the Word?

The iconic movie-musical isn't as good as you think.

“I’ve got chills, they’re multiplying...” (Grease.) This quote from the movie Grease is probably as recognizable as the Pledge of Allegiance. Grease and Grease 2 are two of the most beloved and well-known movie-musicals of all time grossing at more than $400 million worldwide. Loved by many, the two films have held their own in the eyes of critics and viewers alike. However, despite their mass popularity and status as iconic movie-musicals, one of the films stands above the other. Although some may argue that Grease is the superior movie-musical, Grease 2 is far better due to songs, realism, and character relationships.

Because Grease and Grease 2 are musicals, the storyline depends largely on musical numbers that are scattered strategically throughout the film. In Grease, the audience is met with a lackluster group of songs. The songs in Grease do their job of telling the story fine, but lack the catchy and humorous tone that many look for in musicals. It is true that a few songs in Grease contain a comical outlook, such as “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee,” a song in which a supporting character mocks the main character; however, it is also true that almost every song in Grease 2 contains the jocular and catchy tone that musical connoisseurs look for. Grease 2 is riddled with these types of songs from start to finish. These songs include, but are not limited to “Reproduction,” “Score Tonight,” “Girl for all Seasons,” “Back to School Again,” and “Prowlin’ (feat. the T-Birds).” In fact, there are only two songs in the entire movie that don’t fit this ideal movie-musical mold. Unlike Grease, the songs in Grease 2 move the story along in a way that keeps the audience coming back and leaves them singing all day.

In addition to the humdrum songs in Grease, there seems to be a number of events that are out of the realm of realism. In Grease, Danny and Sandy, two high school students from different parts of the world, find themselves in a romantic summer fling while Sandy visits the United States on vacation. Upon the start of the school year, Danny and Sandy find themselves thrust back into each other's arms after Sandy moves from Australia to the US and starts attending the same school as Danny. Although this is quite romantic, the probability that someone would move from a different country and just happen to transfer to the exact same high school as someone they met over summer break is highly improbable and very unrealistic. Even the end of Grease is extremely unrealistic. At the end of the film, Sandy and Danny fly off into the sky in his car. Because the mechanics behind this scene are literally impossible, for that time period at least, that scene is the most unrealistic in Grease. Grease 2, unlike Grease, does not have a single unrealistic scene. Everything that happens in Grease 2 is completely plausible and even likely to happen in a high school setting. In Grease 2, the two main characters, Stephanie and Michael, meet at the beginning of the school year when Michael moves from London to the US. Even though Michael moves to the United States, similar to Sandy in Grease, his situation is much more realistic because he and Stephanie did not have a fling prior to his move.

Lastly, the character relationships in Grease play a large part in making it an inferior movie-musical to Grease 2. Grease has two main romantic relationships that are braided through the plot of the movie. Danny and Sandy’s relationship demonstrates a more sexist look at a romantic relationship. During the course of the entire movie, Sandy is trying to change herself to be with resident bad-boy of Rydell High, Danny Zuko. He does little to change himself for the benefit of the relationship. In fact, Danny just kind of plays into his friend’s image of him and continues to be the top dog T-Bird at Rydell. Another relationship in Grease is between Rizzo and Kenickie. Their relationship is on the rocks throughout Grease. Their entire relationship showcases an unhealthy dynamic because they are consistently unloyal to each other, attempting to make each other jealous, and promoting unsafe sex. The major plot between these two characters focuses on a pregnancy scare because of a single encounter in which they did not use protection. At the end of the movie, it is revealed that Rizzo is in fact not pregnant, and the two go back to being lovey-dovey. Their whole plot tells the audience that even if one does not practice safe sex, the likelihood of getting pregnant is scarce and everything will end up absolutely "peachy-Keen,"(Grease) in the end. Not only is this a bad message to convey to viewers, but because the two characters are teenagers, it may negatively influence teen viewers. In specific, Grease 2 has relationships that defy gender norms and promote healthy teen relationships. Rather than Stephanie chasing after Michael and changing her entire personality to be with him, Michael tries to impress Stephanie by learning a skill in which she is interested in, all the while keeping his personality the same. He is able to show her that he is the guy she has been looking for without entirely morphing himself to fit a certain mold. An additional romantic storyline illustrated in Grease 2 focuses on Sharon and Louis. This relationship positively influences sexuality, unlike the relationship between Rizzo and Kenickie in Grease. Sharon and Louis, friends of Stephanie, struggle with sexuality in their relationship throughout the film. Louis wants to take their relationship to a more mature and intimate level while Sharon feels that they aren’t ready for that kind of relationship. She conveys this message to him and tells him “no” when he tries to pressure her. At the end of the movie, they decide that “there isn’t anything wrong with just liking each other,” (Grease 2). The romantic relationship between Sharon and Louis teaches viewers that it is okay to say no to incorporating intimacy into a relationship if one isn’t ready. Clearly, both of the main character relationships in Grease 2 are much healthier and better influences than those of Grease.

Everything considered, Grease 2 most definitely stands above its predecessor in terms of songs, realism, and character relationships. Grease, while still a movie-musical icon, just doesn’t match up to the superiority of the sequel. Grease 2 is a timeless classic that everyone should watch at least once in their lifetime.

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