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Episode 150 - Grease 2

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And that isn't something you learn in just a couple of weeks.

 

Sure it is. I'm pretty sure Malcolm Gladwell said, "10,000 hours or a couple afternoons a week dicking around in the park."

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Did anyone else think it was weird that as Michael makes his way to the bowling alley he seems to be frantically consulting an Emily Post-esque manners guidebook on how exactly to ask the T-Birds if he can join them in a game? I mean, as long as you're going to include this scene, i think it's a real missed opportunity that the book isn't at least a "Nerd to Cool" dictionary or "American Slang for Native British Speakers." Instead, the advice it gives him is, "Always be courteous when asking for a game." Dude, if you need a goddamn manual to tell you that, then there's a very good chance that you're a fucking sociopath and probably do belong at the bottom of Dead Man's Curve in a mangled heap.

There's something clearly wrong with Michael's social skills. Despite being easily the most handsome man in the school, he still only manages to make one friend in an entire 9 month period. At least I assume that girl he talked to at the bowling alley was his friend, it's kind of hard to tell since they only have 2 or 3 scenes together. A handsome guy like that should have tons of friends in high school. Teens aren't exactly renowned for pricing personality over looks so he'd have to have a pretty unappealing personality to be so unpopular for such a long period of time.

 

But even putting that aside, he goes to the bowling alley alone and his plan is to ask a group of guys who clearly don't like him and who have already tormented him at school to let him bowl with them? Even if they weren't clearly the most qliquish group in the whole school, Michael's gotta realize just showing up uninvited and begging for friends is weird, right? No normal person would act that way.

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I love June so much for her love of this movie! It's the same for me. I had this soundtrack on vinyl and war broke out when I was 12 when my sister broke the record. I would sing these songs from sun up to sundown!

 

The one thing that has always annoyed me though was the interruption of Girl For All Seasons! OMG....half the movie is about Sharon getting the girls ready for this number & then it gets phased out so Stephanie can take her bike ride in heaven wishing to turn back the hands of time!

 

Another thing...these girls truly love Stephanie because there's just no way she should be forgiven for hijacking the entire talent show when that performance was an ensemble piece..just sayin.

 

Ok..nobody asked but here goes my favorite songs in order:

1. Cool Rider

2. Who's That Guy

3. Reproduction

4. Girl For All Seasons

5. We'll Be Together

6. Score Tonight

7. Back to School Again

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Sure it is. I'm pretty sure Malcolm Gladwell said, "10,000 hours or a couple afternoons a week dicking around in the park."

Have we considered the possibility that he's actually a superhero and that this movie is an origin story? Maybe the helmet + goggles are what give him the flying motorcycle powers.

 

Like, what if this is actually the story of the Cool Rider told through the eyes of his love interest? It's Spider-Man from Mary Jane's perspective. Or it's Superman from Lois Lane's perspective.

 

This makes WAY more sense as a subversion of the superhero origin story than it does as the sequel to a romantic teen musical.

 

Maybe this movie was just 20 years ahead of its time.

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JUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNE!

 

I could listen to Miss June Diane sing the songs from Grease 2 all day, every day. I don't have the same level of affection for Grease 2 that June does, but I absolutely have it for the first Grease. There was a chunk of my life when I watched Grease every day after school. I knew that movie backwards, forwards, and to every side. Grease 2 I never thought was good, but I did watch it an awful lot, and it's hard for me to not be really fond of it. Michelle Pfeiffer is just so..cool. She gets far and away the best song in the movie (sorry, guys, "Cool Rider" is way better than "Reproduction" - "Cool Rider" is the only one that feels like a real song to me).

 

Jason points out that the songs in Grease 2 don't advance the story the way the songs from the first movie do, and it's no surprise that Grease 2 was directed by the choreographer of the first one, Pat Birch, and that this is the only feature she has directed. The dance numbers in the first one are great, and they're not too bad in this one ("Back to School Again" is no "Summer Nights," but hey, it's quite a production), but top-notch musical storytelling this is not.

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So, first of all, Michael doesn't sing until the 55 minute mark of this 2 hour musical, and he's the freakin male lead! Later on, when he does get his first solo, most of it's in his head until end of the damn song.

It bothered the hell outta me.

 

Cameron H and WithApologiesToJune touched on this but, what's the deal with Michael anyway?

He either lives in or hangs out inside a bomb shelter with a gun, it's hard to tell which cause we never really see his home life. We're only told he's Sandy's cousin, but we never see proof (oddly he's English, not Australian). If someone else owns the shelter we never see them. He has to read books on how to socialize with others. He constantly watches everyone from afar like a creep. He's obsessively stocking Stephanie, and goes so far as to create another personality to impress her. He even tricks Stephanie at one point into thinking her new boyfriend is dead. His only real friend is Frenchie, and strangely enough she disappears half way through the film.

 

Sociopath, no doubt, but I'll take it further and suggest Michael is a straight up serial killer!

 

After watching the episode of Bandstand that Danny and Sandy were on in the first film, "Michael" (under a different name) begins to crave the teenage experience he was denied and escapes from the mental institution he's spent his whole childhood within. It takes years tracking down the school and learning about the students he saw on TV before "Michael" finds a bomb shelter close to Rydell High, killing the old man who owns it and taking up residence. Discovering the real Michael, Sandy's cousin, would be attending Rydell he kills him too, stealing the identity and befriending Frenchie. It seems like everything is going swimmingly for the new "Michael" until he meets Stephanie, his "Sandy", and begins an obsession that leads to the creation of a split personality, the "Cool Rider". A physical embodiment of Stephanie's fantasies whose birth, romance, and death is actually an elaborate mind game created by "Michael" to drive Stephanie just as insane as him, and eventually into his arms. He also tutors her in English as "Michael", but only so he can belittle and erode her confidence away by correcting her grammar all the time. Frenchie helps him change his personality to get Stephanie, like the first movie, but when she discovers his evil plans he turns into the "Cool Rider" and kills her. With nobody left to stop "Michael", he succeeds in breaking Stephanie's psyche at the talent show, where she performs a duet on stage alone to everyone's confusion, and finally takes advantage of her emotional dependency at the luau. Making her the one thing she was trying not to be; somebody's girl. After defeating the rival gang, metaphorically castrating the T-Birds, and unmasking himself as the "Cool Rider", "Michael" becomes the defacto leader of the gang. Completing his transformation into his own twisted version of the man he saw on TV all those years ago.

 

P.S. - there's tons of technical, filmmaking decisions that annoyed me, but for a first time director with no script and the pressure of a sequel over her head, I don't want to get into that stuff. Also, this might be one of the best movies where you can just sit and watch the extras for entertainment, especially during Michael's mental solo. The little stories in the background of every scene are amazing.

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While it does seem a little odd that Michael is from England, I didn't question it too much, because I do know an Australian who has family in England. I think I found it more odd that Michael just happens to move BY HIMSELF to the same little town his cousin moved to as a high schooler. I know technically he's living with an "uncle", but it feels a bit too convenient lol like why did he transfer there? Isn't there usually some academic goal for that?

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As much as June and many others may feel that Grease 2 is a better substitute film for coming of age I still feel that Grease 1 is better at showing the “teens” maturing. In the first film you see the “teens” making decisions that they later learn from. And it’s through the love of Danny and Sandy that gets us, the viewers, invested in the movie and helps push the it forward. All Grease 2 does is show the kids accepting Sandy’s cousin. Nobody really seems to come across any real conflict. And the movie just seems to be a feature length tv special of a popular teen show from the 70s/80s.

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I didn't see this movie until I was in high school so obviously I hate it. Grew up loving the original. I had many friends who insisted I see it and were shocked I didn't like it. That being g said, I think there is a whole lot to me discussed in this movie than we heard on this so.

 

 

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What do you mean, there are no musical sequels with unironically good songs?

The various "Gold Diggers of..." movies have plenty of great, original, literal Bubsy Berkeley numbers. To be sure, it's unclear whether they are technically sequels or remakes, reboots, reimaginings, or just a Madden-style "put out a new one every year or two with the year in the title so it's clear it's not the existing ones" thing. (The Museum of the Moving Image showed Gold Diggers of 1933 at the same time that they had an exhibit spanning the Madden series, showing how such annual refinement could be art.) Even IMDB seems unclear on the issue, listing "of Broadway" and "of 1933" as both remakes of and follow-ups to The Gold Diggers. But as early as 1933, there were outstanding musical numbers in a movie that owed at least as much to a predecessor in premise/storyline as Grease 2 does to Grease.

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Right. So at the end of the movie after Stephanie and Bobby have been crowned King and Queen of the, uh...Talent Show, they are taken to where a celebratory luau is being held in honor of their successful production. They are carried upon a litter into a small above-ground pool to float and preside over their plebeian peers in watery, adolescent majesty. Then, suddenly, two things happen at once: first, Bobby manages to light their raft on fire, and two, the rival biker gangs crashes the party. The whole scene erupts into chaos while these two fucking geniuses try to row to the edge of the pool on their burning raft. Jesus Christ, guys! The pool isn't more than 3 feet deep and (maybe) 15 feet in diameter. Hey dumb-dumbs, why don't you get off the fucking thing and just wade your happy asses over to the side? Clearly, being "cool" isn't everything...

 

Also, since I'm talking about the end of the movie, I found the number they chose to close out the movie to be an odd choice. In the first Grease, the movie ends at a carnival with all the principal players joining hands to take their final bow. And as their voices are lifted into the sky in joyous harmony, they sing the rambunctious, "We Go Together."

 

 

But, for some reason, in Grease 2, they decided to end the movie with the dirge-like, "We'll Be Together."

 

 

It's like the movie knew that these characters had already peaked and the rest of their lives were destined to be a joyless slog of interminable mediocrity. Fun times.

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Oh shit! Next week's live shows have been announced, and I am soooo excited!

 

It's not letting me attach the picture on my phone for some reason, but it's Highlander 2 and Escape from LA

 

Ooof, I normally like to get those reveals from the minisodes, but I'm so fucking excited I couldn't possibly be mad at you for the spoilage! I have been wanting Highlander 2 forever! I remember Jason suggesting to do Highlander and I cringed, "No! The Quickening!"

 

I still hate Escape From LA for killing John Carpenter and Kurt Russell. And my soul.

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Anna's "balls" riff was the funniest thing ever on the podcast.

 

Grease 3 should be a body swapping story where June is able to live out her dream of being a teenager in a Grease movie. A little 18 Again and a little Peggy Sue Got Married, with a liberal amount of Grease thrown in.

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Also, since I'm talking about the end of the movie, I found the number they chose to close out the movie to be an odd choice. In the first Grease, the movie ends at a carnival with all the principal players joining hands to take their final bow. And as their voices are lifted into the sky in joyous harmony, they sing the rambunctious, "We Go Together."

 

But, for some reason, in Grease 2, they decided to end the movie with the dirge-like, "We'll Be Together."

 

It's like the movie knew that these characters had already peaked and the rest of their lives were destined to be a joyless slog of interminable mediocrity. Fun times.

 

Ever since someone in the thread above claimed that the music from G2 was better than in the original, I've been mentally plotting a savage rebuttal since, you know, that's not right. But as we watched, every now and then I would turn to my wife and say (during the 'Prowling Like a T-Bird' or whatever it was), "Oh shit, I think this is the G2 equivalent of 'Greased Lightning'". As we went, it became very clear that in this switcharoo world (wide-eyed antipodean falls for gang leader in both, but genders switched) the same dramatic structure essentially exists. 'Grease is the Word' becomes 'Back to School'. As Cameron rightly points out, 'We'll Be Together' is the awful version of 'We Go Together' - essentially the same title! The Luau is the Carnival. The Talent Show is the American Bandstand screening. The Cool Rider riding his motorbike at other people is the Greased Lightning drag race (okay, that's a stretch). Michael's awful 'Charades' is Sandy's awful 'Hopelessly Devoted to You'. Is 'Who's That Guy' the 'Sandra Dee' equivalent? Is The Luau song the new version of 'You're the One that I Want'? Thematically, no, but structurally, yes! Sadly, Dolores doesn't get a new-generation version of 'There Are Worse Things I Could Do', although maybe that is a deleted scene revolving around that girl in the first act who has missed her period?

 

In any case, each of these songs achieve the same aim, but unlike the original musical, which was, you know, AN ACTUAL MUSICAL written by people who knew how to put a Broadway musical together (Jacobs/Casey/Farrar), this one's an holy mess of songs cobbled together written by no fewer than ten songwriters. The only 'decent' songs in the movie (Cool Rider, Reproduction, arguably), were written by the same guy, written solo. The rest were all collaborations, and the very worst song in the movie ("We'll Be Together", although anything Cool Rider sings is a disaster) is written by two dudes who have no other credits in the film. There's even a songwriter called Christopher Famous. He's so famous he doesn't have a Wikipedia page.

 

I have two more large points to make as C+Os this week, but I'll save them to avoid clumping. I think my parallel song structure point could be made a little more convincing with a bit of tinkering and fiddling.

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Cakebug, you're dead on about the parallel structures. I was going to write a similar post when I had time, but you said most of what I had to say. It's like someone just decided to take all the elements of the first film, toss them in a hat, jumble them up, and then pull them back out. Then they wrote a movie with all of those elements without understanding what made the elements work in the first film.

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Oh shit! Next week's live shows have been announced, and I am soooo excited!

 

It's not letting me attach the picture on my phone for some reason, but it's Highlander 2 and Escape from LA

 

I can't wait..

 

f4mi9u.jpg

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Cakebug, you're dead on about the parallel structures. I was going to write a similar post when I had time, but you said most of what I had to say. It's like someone just decided to take all the elements of the first film, toss them in a hat, jumble them up, and then pull them back out. Then they wrote a movie with all of those elements without understanding what made the elements work in the first film.

 

I don't think I covered it all - a proper parallel reading might be necessary. Would love for you to take on filling in the gaps!

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I don't think I covered it all - a proper parallel reading might be necessary. Would love for you to take on filling in the gaps!

 

How's this for a parallel? Due to external obstacles and social pressure, two star-crossed teenagers fall in love. So, of course, the Shakespeare play they are studying is--um...Hamlet?

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I don't think I covered it all - a proper parallel reading might be necessary. Would love for you to take on filling in the gaps!

I will give a parallel I noticed: the winners of the dance/talent competition end up not being the main couple, but just the cool one and some other "cool" person, leaving the other uncool half of the pair out of the picture. Of course the main difference here is that Sandy was forced out of the dance by some jerks, whereas Michael would've only been piano backup so he had no chance to win anyway.

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You know what's fucking embarrassing? Not only do these "rebels" feel that their rep is tied to good grades and solid attendance, but in order to get the Roy Orbinson "albumens," they are willing to humiliate themselves in front of the entire school. Do you think Ponyboy or Two-Bit would do that rank crap ? Hell no! That just reeks of effort. Real Greasers would steal that shit before their rumble with the Socs. Because that's fucking tuff.

 

the-outsiders-the-outsiders-30678336-500-206.gif

 

Also, while I'm on the topic of the Talent Show. When the twins ask Michael to play piano, I thought they meant IN the Talent Show, not FOR the Talent Show. Considering he's a teenager and apparently provided accompaniment for ALL the acts, I kind of think he should have won.

 

Then again, he wasn't there for the big show and no one seemed to notice, so maybe not...

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Okay, I can't really find good information, so if anyone wants to assist...

 

I wanted to find out how many essays Michael had to write in order to afford his motorcycle. I can't really find any good info about how much a motorcycle cost in 1961. I did find an ask online estimating a Harley Davidson cost about $500 at that time, but Michael is definitely buying a used hunk of junk, not a Harley.

 

Michael seems to be making maybe about $5 per essay (he was definitely handed five $1 bills under the bleachers, I couldn't catch what denomination he received in the bunker). On screen we see he's done at least 4 essays for the Tbirds, which would be of course $20.

 

By the time Michael gets to the bike yard, the seller is holding a small handful of money. I work a bookkeeping position handling money on weekends, so by the size of the stack my personal guess is that there's somewhere between 60 to 80 bills, but I can't assume they're all the same denomination. If it's only 80 $1s, that would put him at 20 essays, but I feel like I could easily be underestimating the cost of the bike.

 

I just want to know how many of these long essays Michael slaved away on. Could there have been a better way to make money? Also how loaded are the Tbirds that they could give away $5 for each of these papers?

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Was anyone else disappointed that the whole "nose job" thing didn't really go anywhere? Was she still going to go through with it or did she discover sometime during the course of the movie that true beauty lies within?

 

Goddamn you, screenwriters! How dare you introduce us to these rich, three dimensional characters and not give us any closure!

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How loaded are the Tbirds that they could give away $5 for each of these papers?

 

In the 60's $5 was a lot of money, I checked the inflation and its almost $40 of now money per essay.

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BEHOLD the spendor that is Girl For All Seasons...all the way to the freaking end!

 

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I want to talk about Eugene for a second. His character (played by Eddie Deezen) was one of only a few former Rydell figures who returned from the first one, along with the Headmistress, Blanche (xylophone lady), the Coach (the world's worst talent evaluator - he's the guy in the first one who saw Eugene throw a cream pie and immediately recruited him for the baseball team as a pitcher, and in this one somehow has the weenie T-Birds pushing a football sled), the Bad Guy (craterface from the first one who somehow leads a new biker gang in this), Frenchie (already discussed elsewhere). And then there's Eugene. Eugene is a peripheral character in the first movie, the archetypal nerd who is teased by the T-Birds but generally is left alone (his cello doesn't go up a flagpole), and is lumped in with cheerleader Patti Simpcox as an insufferable figure others like to mess with. An interesting bit of trivia - Eddie Deezen was disappointed later in the 80's not to be cast in The Revenge of the Nerds, only to be told by producers that he was too geeky for that franchise.

 

When I first saw this movie I assumed Eugene was like Frenchie - a weird callback character who had hung around school too long after graduating, since given his prominence in the first movie I assumed he was also a senior in Grease, along with the rest of the main figures. Turns out, according to the Grease wiki, Eugene was a freshman in the first movie:

 

It's probable that he was a freshman in Grease. He probably knew the T-Birds when he was in Junior High. Rydell students were locals, so most likely he knew them from around town. Grease 2 was his senior year, as he was seen in a graduation gown at the end of the movie.

 

Okay, so I stood corrected in assuming that Eugene was a Frenchie like-character who was too old to be there (even though I find it weird that Eugene had such a major role in the first movie as a freshman). But, in the first movie, Eugene is set up to be the archetypal nerd - or, we assume, he's brilliantly smart and not very good at the social aspects of school. There's nothing to say that Eugene isn't good at school. At the end of the first movie, as I say, Sid Caesar's Coach recruits Eugene for the baseball team. He's a freshman with brains who has found his way on to the Varsity coach's radar. Things are looking up.

 

Then. Two years later. Eugene is back at Rydell. Same outfit, same persona, but something's... wrong. He meets Michael Carrington and all those brains are gone. "How.. long.. have... you... been... in... America?" How does this borderline genius not understand that an English person can speak English? Later, we see Eugene hoisted into the rafters at the talent show, entrusted with dumping fake leaves on the Pink Lady performance. All of a sudden, Eugene is played less as benevolent nerd and more as special-ed kid with recent brain injury. So my question is... WHAT HAPPENED TO EUGENE? Did he join the baseball team and get hit in the head by a fastball? Did he attempt to do a Cool Rider and buy a motorcycle to impress a Pink Lady only to fall off onto his head? Was he always more Rain Man than Beautiful Mind? Most importantly, what possible benefit does Eugene bring to being in this movie? 99% of viewers would have assumed Eugene was also a senior in the first movie, so bringing him back (along with the whole 'Frenchie is a mature age student who does elaborate chemistry experiments in the first ten minutes of the term' thing) just confuses the viewer. Is Eugene some kind of teachers' aide now? The befuddling recasting of Eugene and Frenchie to maintain the continuity of the franchise arguably undermines the timeline more than assists it. WHY wouldn't they just set the movie 10 years later, get rid of all of the callbacks and make Rydell the only returning character? Then we can happily reason why they dumped cars to all ride motorbikes (Easy Rider came out) and see why no one remembers Danny Zuko or Kenickie anymore.

 

Maybe it was the trauma of seeing Danny and Sandy fly away in that magical car that sent the entire school into a Steph-at-the-talent-show fugue state after the carnival. Maybe Eugene's fragile mind snapped that day. Maybe they've all put the unpleasantness of that post-carnival moment out of their heads. For safety's sake.

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