Directed and Choreographed by Patricia Birch
We are all familiar with Grease, whether we saw it, or know the words from singing along to Summer Lovin’ at school dances. However, surprisingly Grease 2 the sequel went under the radar when it released. This movie was made in 1982, and was set in 1961. It did a great representation of that era by including songs about fear of the bomb (and using going to war as a reason to lose your virginity). It also had a pink lady with a pillbox hat representing Jackie O, and a blonde sultry short haired pink lady with a Norma Jean mentality. It ditched the Hot Rods, and went with motorcycles. Grease had the milkshakes and make-out lanes down, however Grease 2 painted a bright playful look on the fear and devastation that was in the 1960s.
The tables are also turned in this follow up. Instead of having a hopelessly in love blonde we have an assertive leading woman, Michelle Pfeiffer. She takes the character Stephanie Zinone and makes her a strong jeans wearing woman. My favorite scene with her is in the school hallway when she enters in pants she goes in her locker to get out a skirt to put over her denim. She isn’t very lady like, always slapping her gum around in her mouth and works as a service person at a gas station. She finds Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield) a boy who finally listens to what she wants and he is the one to change for her. Don’t get me wrong I love the ending of Grease where Danny and Sandy change for each other, but the fact that this leading lady never budged when she knew what she wanted, even if it meant ditching her pink threads, that is pretty uplifting.
I believe that Patricia did an amazing job telling this story about a young lady that knew she wanted to choose her own destiny. Researching this director I found that she choreographed the 1972 musical on Broadway, as well as the film. This woman has lived with the originally story line of Grease for some time, so it only makes sense why she would be great to re-direct a new generation of our favorite gangs the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies. Other than Grease she has choreographed many shows on and off Broadway, SNL musical numbers, and my favorite credit the film Big.
Grease 2 is packed with catchy pop songs and electric guitar. This isn’t your oldies or sock hop found in Grease. The musical numbers are intense and choreography make up for the lack of deep passionate lyrics. My personal favorites are the bowling alley with the usage of bowling alley lanes, and the Cool Rider number with Pfeiffer climbing and straddling a ladder. Patricia Birch has a talent for finding props to use in dance numbers, like the fun house in Grease, and the keyboard in Big.
This film, as well as the others I am writing about for this month, is available to watch instantly on NetFlix. So celebrate Female Filmmaking and watch it! Happy Women’s History Month!