Twenty years on and it's still clear why Grease was such a hit back in 1978: it's the musical for everyone who thought musicals couldn't be cool. It has great, show-stopping songs, and is perfectly cast, despite the `schoolkids' ranging in age from 19 (Dinah Manoff as Marty) to 35 (Stockard Channing as Rizzo).
It's surprising, watching again, how rude the script is - - at capturing the teenage obsession with sex and how to get it - - and how much the film was edited for subsequent Easter TV broadcasts (a whole verse of Greased Lightning cut, the Rizzo/Kenickie sex scene truncated to a brief moment).
For those who've only viewed it on the small screen, the full-scale version is a revelation, with so much going on in every frame, and background character-action that simply couldn't squeeze into a down-sized format. It's also fast-paced, cutting quickly between scenes and completely lacking in the cringeworthy dialogue that blights many musicals. There's no "Let's put on the show!" excuses; it's just a whizz through a year in high school with musical numbers thrown in.
Travolta and Newton-John shine as the lead characters you either want to be or wish you could have dated at school, although Channing almost steals the show as bad-girl-with-a-heart Rizzo. All in all, the recipe for the perfect evening's entertainment, which will leave you with a summer night high.
Twenty years after it's original release, Grease has turned into a singalong, interactive Rocky Horror Show-style classic, best enjoyed with a bunch of friends with limited inhibitions. Still the best musical of the last 20 years.
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