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"GREASE"
(1978/1998) (John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild None Mild None Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None *Moderate *Moderate
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
*Mild Heavy None Mild Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Musical: A "cool" 1950's gang leader and a prim and proper schoolgirl have an on again, off again romance during their senior year in high school.
PLOT:
After meeting and having a brief summer romance in the late 1950's, Danny Zuko (JOHN TRAVOLTA) and Sandy Olsson (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) say good-bye as they must return to their respective hometowns to finish high school. Back at Rydell High, Danny meets the rest of his leather-jacketed "gang," the "T-Birds," including Kenickie (JEFF CONWAY) and several other greasers.

Unbeknownst to Danny, Sandy has transferred to Rydell where she meets the "Pink Ladies," the T-Birds' female counterparts who include Rizzo (STOCKARD CHANNING), Frenchy (DIDI CONN), and several others. When Danny and Sandy finally run into each other they're excited, but Danny -- knowing he has his "cool" image to maintain -- suddenly acts like she's no big thing. Crushed, Sandy rushes off, hangs out with the Pink Ladies, and finally starts seeing Tom (LORENZO LAMAS), the school jock. Meanwhile Danny and his pals decide to refurbish a car, nicknamed "Greased Lightnin'," and enter it in a competition against Leo (DENNIS STEWART), the leader of a rival gang, the Scorpions.

Still smitten with Sandy, however, Danny tries various ways to impress her. They eventually get back together and compete at a nationally televised dance-off, although later events separate them once more. As the school year draws to a close, they do what they can to get back together.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Considering its popularity over the years with kids of all ages (except preschoolers), it's a good chance they will want to see it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
The MPAA reason was not available, but we'd guess it was for profanity and sexual innuendo.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JOHN TRAVOLTA plays a 1950's gang leader who smokes and acts dispassionately cool about Sandy although his affection toward her eventually causes him to somewhat change his ways.
  • OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN plays a prim and proper young lady who ultimately dons a slinky leather outfit, smokes and struts her stuff trying to get Danny.
  • STOCKARD CHANNING plays the tough, smoking and drinking leader of the Pink Ladies. With a reputation for sleeping around, she does have a pregnancy scare.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
    Based on the stage musical that preceded it by several years -- and that's currently one of the longest running productions in Broadway history -- "Grease" the film opened in 1978 and went on to become the biggest grossing movie musical of all time. Now re-released for its twentieth anniversary and sporting a revamped soundtrack, it's not hard to see why.

    Still as fresh as it was two decades ago -- which is easy to do when the subject matter concerns a lightweight, period piece -- "Grease" features a fun cast, great music, and a non-taxing story. Although its whimsical approach was -- and probably still is -- decried by many stage and movie critics, you can't help but enjoy the film, and only the most hardened of viewers won't like this feature.

    What's interesting is that both releases of this film coincide with its main star's peaks of success. In 1978 and hot off his success in TV's "Welcome Back Kotter" and his first big film, "Saturday Night Fever," actor John Travolta was the "next big thing." Exuding tons of charm and a streetwise attitude that compensated for regular smarts, Travolta inhabited Danny Zuko like the role was written for him and is one of the reasons for the film's success. Afterwards, however, Travolta had his career slump and, of course, has since made it back to the top, thus making this that much more interesting to watch again with all of that in hindsight.

    The film also features Olivia Newton-John who, in the late 70's, was a big international pop star. Although a little old for the part, she perfectly fit in as a high school senior and her great singing voice certainly didn't hurt her attempts at getting the role. It's also fun to see the performances from cast members who later become better known, such as Stockard Channing (Oscar nominee for "Six Degrees of Separation), Jeff Conway (who later appeared on TV's "Taxi"), and Lorenzo Lamas (TV's "Falcon Crest" and "Renegade"), along with older stars such as Frankie Avalon, Eve Arden, Sid Caesar, and the popular (in the 1970's) retro-50's group, Sha-Na-Na.

    Regarding the film's artistic merits, one shouldn't carefully scrutinize it since a) it's not meant to be a serious musical (like today's Broadway megahits) and b) it would fall apart like a cheap suit if inspected too closely. Needless to say, the characters are all caricatures of what people were like -- or at least the popular notion of what they were like -- in the 1950's. The plot is simplified to its most bare-bones structure and loosely follows the boy meets girl, loses girl, gets girl back scheme, and offers few, if any surprises. Toward the end, a nationally televised dance contest consumes a great deal of screen time and does little to move the story forward.

    Even so, it's those, and the rest of the film's choreographed musical numbers -- some of which were added especially just for the film -- that make the movie work. Standouts include "Greased Lightnin'," "Summer Nights" (a perfect, superficial examination of the differences between how men and women see the same events), "You're The One That I Want" and the Oscar-nominated "Hopelessly Devoted To You." Those songs -- while not always perfectly fitting in with the time period -- helped to sell millions of copies of the soundtrack. When combined with the winning performances from Newton-John and Travolta (who sings his own numbers), both transport the movie beyond its overall flimsy construction.

    While musical purists (as in the Broadway types) probably cringe when they hear the numbers or see the film, most everyone else will enjoy the production. Designed to be nothing more than pure bubblegum pop, it's a fun, toe-tapping diversion that showcases a nifty performance from Travolta that's fun to see after all of the intervening years. We give "Grease" a 7 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Some sexual innuendo and implied activity, as well as some limited profanity highlight the material with which most parents will probably be concerned. The "s" word and a possible slang term for female genitals are used in a song (and probably not discernable by many viewers) and there are other instances of milder profanity and phrases parents might not want younger kids repeating. Some sexually related comments occur, as does a suggested encounter (and false pregnancy), and we see three guys' bare butts as they "moon" a TV camera.

    Most of the main characters smoke and make it look cool (but one must remember this was a film made in the 70's about the 50's when smoking was much more the norm). There's also some drinking and bits of behavior that kids may try to imitate, but for most kids a great deal of the material is probably harmless. Even so, you should look through the content just to be sure if someone in your home wishes to see this film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Rizzo and the Pink Ladies drink wine from the bottle and try to get Sandy to drink some.
  • The T-Birds appear to drink beer in one scene.
  • Rizzo drinks a beer.
  • A student at the dance-off spikes the punch with liquor, and later he (or someone else) walks by and takes a swig from a bottle.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Danny and the T-Birds refer to women as "chicks" and see them as sexual material (like stereotypical teenage males).
  • Danny gives Sandy the cold shoulder so that he'll still look cool to his buddies.
  • Rizzo sings a song, "Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee" mocking Sandy's pure and proper behavior.
  • Leo, the Scorpion's gang leader, continually tries to instigate something between the rival gangs.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • In the opening cartoon sequence, there is an ever-so-brief image of what appears to be Davy Crockett with a rifle.
  • Switchblade: Shown by Kenickie in one scene.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Puts out," "Horny," and "Flog your log," (sexual), "Moron," "Chicks" (for women), "Jerks," "Shut up," "Screws up," "Dorks," "Creep," "Nuts" (crazy), "Bite the weenie," "Fruitcake," "Knocked up" (pregnant) and "Putz."
  • Although they're 1950's type gangs, nearly all of the main characters (male and female) belong to them and many smoke.
  • A student pushes another student over a third student crouched behind him.
  • Kenickie puts a small creature into a girl's bag to make her scream when she puts her hand inside it.
  • One of the T-Birds looks up some girls' skirts through the bleachers.
  • Danny does some brief pelvic thrusting while singing a song with the line, "We made out under the dock."
  • It appears that Leo gives the T-Birds "the finger."
  • Rizzo throws a milkshake in Kenickie's face.
  • A student at the dance-off spikes the punch with liquor.
  • Three of the T-Birds moon the TV camera and we see their bare butts.
  • Students sneak into a drive-in theater by hiding in a car's trunk.
  • Leo and Danny participate in a drag race.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • Much of the following isn't outwardly obvious or completely intelligible, but it does occur during these songs.
  • The song "Greased Lightnin'" contains the "s" word, a possible slang term for female genitals (the "p" word) and definitely for breasts (the "t" word) and the phrases "the chicks'll cream for greased lightnin'," and "I can get off my rocks."
  • The song "Sandra Dee" contains the word "crap," and the lines, "Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity -- Won't go to bed until I'm legally wed..." and "Elvis, Elvis, let me be, keep that pelvis far from me."
  • In the song "Summer Nights" about Danny and Sandy's romance, Danny's friends sing lines such as "Tell me more, tell me more, did you get very far," "Tell me more, tell me more, did she put up a fight," "Tell me more, tell me more, that you don't got her preg," and he boastfully sings "Well she was good, you know what I mean."
  • PROFANITY
  • 1 "s" word, 1 possible slang term for female genitals (the "p" word), 2 slang terms for breasts (the "t" word), 4 craps, 1 ass, and 3 uses of "God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • There's also the material listed under the "Music/Inappropriate" category.
  • Depending on the age of your kids, you might rate the following differently than us (we gave it a mild rating leaning toward a moderate).
  • In the opening animated credits, we briefly see the cartoon bare butts of several guys "mooning" others and a similarly drawn Rizzo in her bra.
  • The T-Birds ask Danny if he "got in her (Sandy's) drawers."
  • We briefly see Rizzo and some of the other Pink Ladies in their underwear (but nothing else is seen).
  • In an exchange between Rizzo and Kenickie we hear, "What's up?" and then "One guess" (innuendo). Danny then says that she's looking good and she replies, "Eat your heart out." He then says that he's not into "sloppy seconds." When he then walks off she asks him, "Are you going to flog your log?" (masturbate).
  • Catching a ride with Kenickie and then addressing the other T-Birds, Rizzo says, "What do you guys think this is, a gang bang? You wish."
  • We see a passing shot of teens making out in the backs of cars and then stop on Kenickie and Rizzo. They passionately kiss in the backseat and she asks him, "Do you have something?" He then pulls out a condom (calling it his "twenty-five cent insurance policy"), but then comments that it just broke. After a momentary pause, she says "What the hell," they start kissing again and it's implied that they have sex. Later, she mentions that she's missed her period, but then comments that Kenickie isn't necessarily the father. It later turns out that she isn't pregnant.
  • When someone tells Rizzo to "bite the weenie," she says, "With relish."
  • A T-Bird comments that "chicks" are only good for one thing (sex). Another then asks "What are you supposed to do for the other twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes?" Another then says, "Is that all it takes -- fifteen minutes?"
  • Three of the T-Birds moon the TV camera and we see their bare butts.
  • While parked at the drive-in theater, Danny puts his arm around Sandy and tries to put his hand on her breast, and then pulls her down into the seat, but she quickly stops him and leaves.
  • SMOKING
  • In the opening animated credits, we briefly see people with pipes or cigars.
  • Kenickie smokes throughout the film, while Danny and Rizzo occasionally smoke and Sandy briefly smokes.
  • Rizzo and her friends try to get Sandy to smoke (peer pressure) and she does, but coughs after one puff.
  • Other minor characters (the T-Birds, etc...) smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The accuracy of this film's depiction of the 1950's.
  • That Sandy decides at the very end of the film to forgo her prim and proper dress, behavior and attitude, and adopts a behavior where she smokes, frizzes her hair, and dons a tight leather outfit in an attempt to win over Danny.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Leo twice backs his car into Kenickie's car.
  • While trying out for several sports teams, Danny punches one guy in the gut to get a basketball, he hits a wrestler in the chest who's sitting on top of him, and he pulls an umpire's mask out and then lets go, letting it smack the guy in the face.
  • Kenickie and Leo get into a very brief pushing match on the dance floor during a number.
  • A car door accidentally hits Kenickie on the head, knocking him out.
  • Leo has a spinning, drill like device on his car that cuts into Danny's car and shreds its side.



  • Reviewed March 14, 1998

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