By Corey Brueggemeyer
For the Miami Student
Whether film is hailed as a higher art form or disregarded as entertainment for the common man, no one can deny that movies have the ability to transcend reality and take us places we've never been before. However, rarely does a film come along that actually has an impact on pop culture and our society in general.
Set in the leather-jacket clad, pelvic thrusting 1950s, "Grease" tells the story of suave greaser Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Australian good girl Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) as they navigate the dances and drama of high school. Musically charged and full of sunshine, this 1978 film tells the classic California love story coupled with outlandish song and dance routines.
Somehow, this was my first time seeing this movie, and though I was pleasantly surprised, I couldn't help but think that "Grease" would be the result of a live-action Barbie and Ken doll movie.
Every character seemed to be a perfect stereotype for a classic high school movie, and the "dark" times in the film seemed fleeting and unemotional. But, the combination of brilliant choreography, catchy lyrics, and a killer performance by the always-fresh John Travolta launched this film into the forefront of the '70s box office.
The first thing I noticed about this film was how incredibly old everyone looked. These are supposed to be high school kids, but half of the actors look like they went to high school in the '50s. Stockard Channing, basically a dieted Rosie O'Donnell that plays the character of Rizzo, was 35 years old when she stared in this movie. For those of you who aren't math majors, that's double the age of an average high school student.
Another thing I instantly noticed about this movie is that it is dirty. In the first 30 minutes, there is talk of gangbangs, masturbation and broken condoms. Obviously a PG rating had a different connotation in the 1970s then it does now and I'm sure a few kids learned some choice words when they saw this movie.
Even though this film had a lot of flaws in writing, acting and awful animation, it was still enjoyable. The key in its success lies in the tremendous amount of youthful vitality exuded throughout, and the joyous upbeat nature of the musical routines. While it lacked the depth and culture of an "American Graffiti" or a "Dazed and Confused," it was a delightfully simple film.
The unforced stylization in numbers like "Greased Lightning" and "Beauty School Drop Out" reminded me of the enchanting films of Fred Astaire.
While "Grease" certainly wasn't a perfect movie, it worked altogether as a cinematic experience. If you're looking for a truthfully intrinsic survey of human nature, this definitely isn't the film for you. But if you want to spend two hours watching a pleasant, upbeat, and plastic film, "Grease" is for you.
"Grease" will be shown on Monday, Sept. 14 at 8:30 p.m. in Central Quad.