Saturday, September 1, 2012

Back to School Again

Well, it's the end of our second week of school and I don't know about anyone else but I am exhausted.  I was given a new program to add to my numerous assignments this year, Broadcasting and our News show, and even though we're only in the planning stages for the program I am already beaten down by the stress.  It's a bit unnerving to teach a class that you're pretty sure you know the stuff for, but you want to be sure you don't make a mistake because there are kids in the class who have been doing it much longer than I have and know as much or more about it than I do.  On the plus side, having that class prevents me from teaching a second grade of language arts this year so now I only have to prep for Freshmen, which I think I prefer.  They're still pliable at this age and much more receptive to learning than upperclassmen who have since decided that they are closed off to anything new.  To be honest, I meant to write this blog last week when we started school, but it slipped my mind with everything else swirling about.  However, I think getting it in before Labor Day counts (considering we used to not go back to school till after Labor Day in my youth).  Today's title is both indicative of the state of mind many of us are in at this time, but also is a song title from the film I plan to discuss today.  It is generally considered to be one of the worst sequels made at it's time and it's reputation hasn't changed much in the interim years.  Despite the fact that it stars a fresh faced Michelle Pfeiffer and was produced by the same creative team as it's first installment, it just didn't gel.  However, for the theme of going back to school, I thought it fit quite nicely.  So put on your helmet and revve your engines...we're going prowlin' with Grease 2.

It's 1961, three years since the original gang became seniors at Rydel High School and now a new gang is taking the spot light.  The most influential is Stephanie Zinone, the new leader of the Pink Ladies, who feels she has outgrown her relationship with the rather juvenile leader of the T-Birds, Johnny Zogerelli.  Things begin to change when Sandy's cousin Michael Carrington arrives at Rydel as a transfer student from Britain.  Guided by the effervescent Frenchy, who is back at Rydel to complete some courses, Michael takes an interest in Stephanie who, while trying to prove a point to Johnny at bowling night, gives Michael some very mixed signals.  Michael attempts to ask her out, but she rebuffs him saying that she will only date a "Cool Rider" of a motorcycle.  Michael then takes it upon himself to change his appearance and to learn to ride a hog, so that he can impress and win over the beautiful Stephanie....oh yeah, and there are some other supporting characters and a lot of singing and dancing.

Grease 2 can only be described as a mess...you have an attempt at trying a new era from the original Grease by placing it in the early 60s, but that wasn't that far removed from the 50s stylistically so it becomes a retread in that area.  The characters are simply gender switched with the rebel being a female (who is far more sensative than Danny Zuko ever was) and the goody-two-shoes who decides to change to be liked is now a male, so again you have the exact same dish with none of the favor.  And then there is the random addition of Frenchy, which the film does almost nothing with (it almost acts as an unpleasent reminder that you aren't watching the original).  And yet, I can't completely write off Grease 2 as a failure because, while it is a mess...it is a damn entertaining mess.  The songs and the sequences that feature them, corny and awful as they are, are what save this film from complete oblivion by being watchable and enjoyable.  The opening sequence, "Back to School Again", sets the (groan inducing?) tone for the entire film and tells you that "Hey, we're here....we're not as good as Grease...and damnit we're having too much corny fun to care."  Things progress to the bowling number, in which teenagers are inexplicably spinning and twirling with bowling balls that by all rights should be ripping their arms off with the weight of the balls and force in which they are twirling.  Things begin to crecendo as Michelle Pfeiffer straddles a ladder and wishes for her "Cool Ryder" and by the time a science class sings about "Reproduction" you're hooked.  It's a shame that movie goers didn't turn this one into the audience participation phenomenon that Rocky Horror managed because it is just begging to be yelled at.

If you loved Grease, I cannot promise that you'll even like Grease 2.  If, however, you get a kick out of watching bad films that, despite their awfulness, are still fun to watch...you might find a cheesy good time with Grease 2.  If fact, if you're looking for a rowdy movie night kinda film, I think this may be the perfect contender.  Grease 2 will be your "Girl For All Seasons" if you let her.


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