Grease star Olivia Newton-John turns 65 today, which is cool. 65 is a solid number, certainly something for her to celebrate with her friends and family. I just hope no one ruins her special day by bringing up Grease and pointing out all the flaws in it. That’s what people do when Grease gets brought up, right? They sit around and talk about the many flaws? No? I’m getting word that is incorrect. In fact, I’m getting word that I’m the only one who struggles with this movie. Apparently everyone else feels cool about the fact that it’s a nonsensical musical full of gaping plot holes and unbelievable character development. Okay, well then, I’ll just have to have this conversation with myself. Here goes….
The movie starts off with two adults parading around as teenagers on a beach. That’s right, your gal Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) was 30-years-old when the movie filmed. In comparison to her middle-aged self, the 24-year-old Danny Zuko (John Travolta) looks like a child bride. But fine, we’ll skim over the fact that they’re 400 years too old to play these parts. That kind of age manipulation is a Hollywood tale as old as time.
And we’ll move on to the part where Sandy’s all like, “Danny, I’m moving back to Australia, actually, my parents just texted me and I’m staying in America and going to your high school. But twist, we won’t find that out until I get there because I would never contact my summer boyfriend and tell him there’s been a chance of plans.” Insert the sound of cars braking overdramatically and say whattt? The odds that Sandy’s parents would decide to stay in America on a whim are very low. And yes, staying in a country when you planned to go home to another whole country is a whim — or an attempt to avoid some kind of prosecution in your home county. But anyways, fine, fine. Danny and Sandy end up at school together.
While at school, Sandy goes full on crazy girl and describes her summer fling as some kind of magical relationship. But tell me this Sandy, if it was soooo magical, why didn’t you ever write Danny a letter and tell him you’re staying in America!?! HUH? Oh is it because he forgot to give you his contact information? Here’s a spoiler alert for life Sandy, if a guy likes you, he’ll give you his phone number. It’s that simple. As Sandy turns her summer romance into a relationship worthy of a wedding Pinterest board, Danny tells his friend that the fucked her. I mean, he didn’t say fuck because it’s a family movie, but you don’t thrust your hips like that if you’re talking about the time you looked longingly into her eyes.
After telling their respective friends about their summers in the most obnoxious way possible (seriously, a song and a dance. It’s a bit much), they finally run into each other. And whoops, looks like they’re not compatible at all anymore. They both laugh at how different they are in front of other people and agree to remain on friendly terms. JK! JK! JK!
They decide to insult each other for the middle half of the movie before falling back in love and remember how much fun it was to have sex. I mean “make out” under the docks. Oh and in between all this drama. And in between all this changing, Rizzo (the 34-year-old Stockard Channing) has a pregnancy scare. But it’s just a scare because, movies are nowhere near brave enough to ever address the implications of a teenager getting pregnant and not wanting the baby. Seriously, I had a dollar for every time a pregnancy ended in “just a scare” or “a miscarriage, I’d have enough to create my documentary, The Case of the Convenient Miscarriage. But enough about miscarriages and back to our lovebirds.
Through a long series of shenanigans that end up looking like the prequel to The Fast and the Furious, Danny and Sandy finally get back together. Except Sandy seems to have sacrificed her entire personality to do it. In a costume choice that is not at all subtle, she shows up at the end of the movie wearing a black leather outfit with EXPOSED SHOULDERS. Which stands in sharp contrast to her virginal white dress from earlier in the movie. Can someone call Taylor Swift in here so we can have a proper conversation about the virgin/whore dichotomy? Also couldn’t Danny have worn a polo or something else to signify that he’s changed a little bit too? It just seems unfair that she has to take up smoking to impress him, but he doesn’t really have to do much to impress her. I mean, she’s giving herself cancer for him. The least he can do is put on a shirt over his undershirt.
But Sandy’s complete transformation to a chain-smoking badass isn’t even the most offensive part of this movie. The part where their car flies off would that prize. Because why? Why does the car fly away? What is the flying car implying? That if you completely alter your personality, magic things will literally happen? Ugh to that flying car and to Sandy’s “oooo this is a fun flying car” face and this entire movie.
You can read more movie reviews from the ’90s and ’00s by checking out Retro Reviews.