Life lessons 'Grease' can teach Nostalgia: Those who have never seen this musical about the '50s don't yet know they'd "better shape up."

March 27, 1998|By Tamara Ikenberg | Tamara Ikenberg,SUN STAFF

Hopelessly devoted to "Grease"?

Pull on those pedal pushers and meet me at the malt shop, 'cause you're in luck.

The '50s period musical romance, featuring a svelte and dreamy John Travolta and a pure and irresistible Olivia Newton-John, joined by a singing, dancing, hormone-crazed horde of the oldest high school students on record, is being re-released today for its 20th anniversary.

For the few people who haven't seen the movie, who are begging "Tell me more, tell me more," pay attention:

Australian super-virgin Sandy meets sensitive greaser Danny Zuko at the beach, where they engage in some innocent summer lovin' before their senior years in high school. At summer's end, Sandy must return to Australia. However, she ends up staying in town, where she attends Rydell High, which happens to be Danny's school. But the image-conscious high-school Danny is much different from her summer Danny. They struggle to pursue their love and find common ground against a backdrop of poodle skirts, vintage cars and period-appropriate poseurs.

"Grease," the highest-grossing movie of 1978, eventually became the highest-grossing movie musical of all time. More than 20 million soundtrack albums have been sold, nearly 3 million since 1991.

It's easy to see why the movie's appeal spans the generations and packs more power than "Greased Lightning."

Lessons learned from those fast times at Rydell High:

Practice safe sex: Before Kenickie and Rizzo make out in Kenickie's pre-"Greased Lightning" car, he admits to having bought his broken condom in junior high, which must have been a really long time ago since he looks like he's 30. The promiscuous Rizzo has a brief moment of apprehension about whether to have sex with him. Later, she thinks she's pregnant, which comes as a surprise, because she must be 40 or something. People call her nasty names, and she has some self-esteem issues.

Don't be a beauty school dropout or any other kind of dropout: Don't ditch high school for a beauty career, which you're not very good at anyway. The multi-hue-haired Frenchy did just that. As a consequence, she suffered an insulting serenade from an aging, heaven-sent Frankie Avalon while her friends pranced about in space-age smocks and curlers.

Wait till the one that you want is ready: A testosterone-saturated Danny aches for Sandy to give him a little action. He makes a move at the drive-in and the Madonna from Down Under flees in horror. Danny, "branded a fool," spends the rest of the night singing and wondering "why-y-y-y-y?" while a movie refreshment ad featuring a hot dog jumping into a waiting bun plays in the background.

See a dermatologist early: Crater Face, leader of the Scorpions, the T-Birds' rival gang, got his name for a reason. Sure, he was dating the sexy Cha Cha, "The best dancer at St. Bernadette's," but man, they had Stridex in the '50s, didn't they?

Don't sing nasty songs about people when they're in the bathroom, because they might hear you: Frenchy kindly invites Sandy to the Pink Ladies' slumber party. The other Pinks, especially Rizzo, decide Sandy, who doesn't drink, swear or rat her hair, is prime for an extemporaneous musical number, which they perform loudly while Sandy pukes in the bathroom.

Better shape up, 'cause she needs a man: Danny, jealous of Sandy's mute jock boyfriend, decides to trade in his leather jacket for a letterman's. He takes up sports, which proves disastrous for our Danny, who tucks in his sweats, picks fights and pauses every couple of minutes to comb his hair. But at least he tried.

Dress like a hooker and people will like you: Our heroine, in an elegant reprise of "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee," decides there must be "something more than what they see." So she lets Frenchy give her a long-awaited makeover. Sandy emerges from her prude cocoon as a black-Spandex-clad butterfly and is immediately accepted.

Pub Date: 3/27/98

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