Whenever the movie Grease 2 is brought up in conversation, you’ll probably hear a faint voice say, “There’s a second one?” And I’m here to tell you: YES. THERE. IS. And although it could easily be “cancelled” in 2020 for a handful of reasons, it’s an entertaining movie musical that deserves some attention. I love it! So, consider this piece both brave and dangerous.
I was inspired to write about this movie because of a personal experience I had as a teenager. I was 15 years old and it was my last summer at sleepaway camp in Maine. I was the oldest one there, so on the last day, as we were getting on the bus home, the camp counselor said, “Anna is going to pick which movie we’re going to watch.” I had been sobbing for hours because I loved camp and was sad to leave, and was especially upset because it was my last year. But I stood up with confidence, wiped my eyes, and said, “I pick Grease 2.” I remember the groans and disappointed whispers. It was as if I’d said, “I volunteer as tribute,” and the whole bus couldn’t believe it.
Grease 2 takes place two years after the events of the first film at Rydell High, the same mostly caucasian high school where knives are unironically allowed. However, this time it’s with different students! Think Saved By The Bell: The New Class, where Screech was the only returning student, but in this case, it’s Frenchie from Grease. Obviously you remember Frenchie; she dropped out of beauty school after accidentally dying her hair pink (like a queen!). But she was still so passionate about the beauty industry, that she stayed in high school to “make her own cosmetics” in chemistry class. (She’s basically the Kylie Jenner of the ’60s!) Also Didi Conn, who plays Frenchie, is a legend, so the team behind Grease 2 was lucky that her schedule was more open than, say, … John Travolta’s. Because he was busy starring in bigger films at this point in his career!
The brilliance of this movie is that the plot is basically the same as Grease, but the roles are reversed! This was a pretty progressive move for a film in 1982. It’s the story of the coolest pink lady in school, Stephanie, played by the incredible Michelle Pfeiffer, and an unpopular nerdy new guy in town, Michael (Maxwell Caulfield), who secretly transforms into a cool biker dude in order to be eligible to date her. She doesn’t even care about his name or where he’s from or what he’s like! All that matters is that he’s hot and has a motorcycle (which is my criteria too). Plus, he’s cousins with Sandy from the first movie, you know, to connect the two stories. Sandy was bold enough to get a makeover in order to date Danny, so naturally her cousin Michael is fit for the challenge as well. When Michelle Pfeiffer falls for this guy, she has no idea who he really is. It’s like Superman, but with black leather instead of blue spandex. They date each other for what feels like weeks, maybe months, without her knowing anything more than “dude on a bike!” He disguises himself in goggles and a helmet, which can definitely alter someone’s appearance enough. Maybe we need to take a page out of Grease 2’s guide to dating and not go on someone’s social media, or see their real face in person until they’ve proven to be a decent kisser! You could fall in love with a gas station attendant and not even know it for months. Thank God this movie continued the valuable lesson that we learned in Grease: You should change everything about yourself for someone else. (And if that’s not how life works? Then I’ve been doing it wrong!)
Grease 2 actually has bigger, better and more heightened musical numbers than Grease, if you can believe it. And by “heightened,” I mean the musical numbers in this movie are mostly about sex. But these songs don’t just have a hot bass line, they also have educational meaning! There’s “Reproduction,” a memorable bop which takes place in a biology class where all of the students nix the books for dirty dancing with each in front of their teacher. It’s totally inappropriate for a classroom, and that’s part of the appeal! The incredible song “Score Tonight” takes place in a bowling alley and breaks barriers by combining musical theatre and sports in one dynamic number (24 years before High School Musical). Plus, it’s definitely about sex too!
Then there’s the classic love song “Do It For Our Country,” which happens when one of the T-Birds locks his Pink Lady inside a fallout shelter and pretends there’s a war happening outside, so they might as well have sex. … If there were a sequel to Grease 2 (wishful thinking, I know) that took place today, this guy would for sure get cancelled. But there’s not and it’s quite a catchy song … so catchy that you forget this guy is basically forcing his girlfriend to sleep with him. It’s a lesson in nonconsensual sex, an experience I’d never want to happen to myself or anyone else! But these were the ’60s. People were “doing it for the country” all over the place (OK, boomers!). I am grateful for the lessons we learn from this movie. It’s like the dramatic D.A.R.E. program videos, but for sex education. Most people forget about this scene in the end, because “Girl For All Seasons” is a way more memorable number.
There’s no doubt that Grease 2 is an iconic film. It’s the Empire Strikes Back for the cigarette-lovin’ teeny bop generation! It’s catchy, it’s flawed, it’s a completely innovative story that permits people to not be true to themselves. And just like Grease, which ends with the absurd song “We Go Together,” Grease 2 ends with the song “We’ll Be Together,” which suggests that someone ran out of song ideas so they went with a classic they know already kills at karaoke! If it ain’t broke … don’t fix it!