Illustration by Nina Mangion
This column has one very simple scenario on which it is based. Imagine, you’ve had some mates round (granted, this scenario doesn’t apply to our current world, but I hate a cultural comment and find an occasional departure from reality deeply refreshing so let’s brush past that quickly). Again, imagine you’ve had some mates round, but not mates that you’re really that close with, you’ve been drinking, they’ve been here for a while now, you’re tired, and basically you just want them to fuck off.
So, what do you do?
You put on Grease 2, obviously – assuming that the group of friends you have round are the notorious Michelle-Pfeiffer-movie-musical-sequel-hating clique. We all know them, right?
To be honest, I’m a bit afraid of the simplicity of my premise. Will it be anything more than a drawn-out list of films that I like that are widely hated? Will something more profound come of it? Will I be able to sell waffle as thoughtful meditation on some subject that hasn’t come to me yet? Will it be anything more than an excuse to show how deeply different and quirky I am? Fuck knows.
It could very quickly become that I am the pony, and this is my one trick, that I am the one who should make the early exit from the party as punishment for being such a boring host. Here’s the keys to my house guys, I’ll shut the door on my way out.
As a general rule, sequels are pretty shit: such is the fickle bitch that is the law of diminishing returns. And I wonder, along with all the other neuroses that seem to be spilling out so far, whether this column will be my Grease 2. Set the impossible task of living up to the stone-cold-classic that was my first column, that was my Grease, I replace smothering arrogance with crippling insecurity (just self-deprecating humour I assure you) – but don’t worry, the needless swearing will live on, because I’m sure that gimmick hasn’t gotten old yet.
As an example of the general rule, Grease 2 is truly a piece of shit. The visceral reaction it evokes more than any other is that of the cringe. Grease 2 shatters the suspension of disbelief I allow myself to undertake in watching Grease. Suddenly, the coolest kids in school breaking into song is so fucking embarrassing. I’m sorry, but these are some of the naffest ‘T-Birds’ (see their abominable rendition of ‘Prowlin’’ for reference) I’ve ever seen in my life. The inherent incompatibility of sex and showtunes comes forward in full effect in this film, and I fail to believe that even the songs called ‘Reproduction’, ‘Scor[ing] Tonight’ and ‘Do[ing] It For Our Country’ could bring about the event they warble on.
But, despite this, these are all fucking tunes. They are rubbish, but they slap. And this edict can be applied to Grease 2 as a whole. It’s funny because it’s shit, it’s great because it’s not; it’s, in my opinion, better than Grease because it’s worse than it, because it breaks every rule that was set out by its progenitor – if those rules are well-acted, well-rounded characters playing out an interesting plot.
As its departure and degradation from Grease are the foundation of its beauty, the things that really ruin Grease 2 for me are its throwbacks to the original. Nothing makes me sicker than seeing the return of Didi Conn’s Frenchy, Eve Arden’s Principal McGee, and Dennis Stewart’s Leo (that’s the bad motorcycle guy for those of you, who like me, didn’t know that character had a name until they googled it), and the repetition of jokes such as the xylophone announcements and rats down tops.
Fuck! Yes! I’ve found it! The thing that’s going to make this more than just a list of pros and cons about Grease 2! Right, the big lesson, the big takeaway, the profundity in the waffle, that we have to learn from Grease 2 is that sometimes we just do have to move on. Sometimes we have to be the Olivia Newton John in a situation – not Didi Conn – and dip at the end of the original, rather than hanging around for both the sequel and the live TV production (which was an irredeemable piece of shit).
So, I guess if it’s me you’re trying to get to go home, then Grease: Live is definitely your best bet.