Grease 2 is a 1982 American musical romantic comedy film and the sequel to the 1978 film Grease, which is based upon the 1971 musical of the same title by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Originally titled More Grease, the film was produced by Allan Carr and Robert Stigwood, and directed and choreographed by Patricia Birch, who also choreographed the first film and the Broadway musical. It takes place two years after the original film's high school graduation at Rydell High School, set in the JFK 1961–1962 school year, with an almost entirely new cast, led by actors Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer in her first starring role.
|Directed by||Patricia Birch|
|Written by||Ken Finkleman|
by Jim Jacobs
|Edited by||John F. Burnett|
|Music by||Louis St. Louis|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$15.2 million|
In the United States, the film was released in theaters on June 11, 1982, and grossed a little over $15 million against a production budget of $11 million, a far cry from its predecessor's $132 million gross at the domestic box office. The film, now known for being the breakout roles for Pfeiffer, Zmed and Christopher McDonald, was otherwise poorly received, with Grease co-creator Jim Jacobs (who was not involved with Grease 2) being particularly displeased with it.
It is 1961, two years after the original Grease ended and the first day of school has arrived ("Alma Mater" from the original musical) as Principal McGee and her secretary Blanche react in horror as the students, among them the new T-Birds and Pink Ladies, arrive at high school ("Back to School Again"). The Pink Ladies are now led by Stephanie Zinone, who feels she has "outgrown" her relationship with her ex-boyfriend Johnny Nogerelli, the arrogant, chauvinistic, and rather immature new leader of the motorcycle riding T-Birds.
A new arrival comes in the form of clean-cut English student Michael Carrington (a cousin of Sandy Olsson from the previous film). He is welcomed and introduced to the school atmosphere by Frenchy, who was asked by Sandy to help show Michael around. Frenchy reveals she has returned to Rydell to obtain her high school diploma so she can start her own cosmetics company. Michael eventually meets Stephanie and quickly becomes smitten with her.
At the local bowling alley, a game ("Score Tonight") turns sour due to the animosity between Johnny and Stephanie. Stephanie retaliates by kissing the next man who walks in the door, who happens to be Michael. Bemused by this unexpected kiss, Michael falls in love with Stephanie so asks her out, but he learns that she has a very specific vision of her ideal man ("Cool Rider"). After realizing that he will only win her affection if he turns himself into a cool rider, Michael gets to work on acquiring a motorcycle. Using his intelligence, Michael begins to covertly accept payments from the T-Birds to write their term papers and uses the cash to buy a motorcycle.
Following an unusual biology lesson ("Reproduction") given by Mr. Stuart, a substitute teacher, a gang of rival motorcyclists called the Cycle Lords (most of whom are members of the defunct Scorpions) led by Leo Balmudo, surprise the T-Birds at the bowling alley. Before the fight starts, a lone mysterious biker appears (who is actually Michael in disguise), defeats the enemy gang and disappears into the night ("Who's That Guy?"). Stephanie is fascinated with the stranger. Meanwhile, Louis, one of the T-Birds, attempts to trick his sweetheart Sharon, one of the Pink Ladies and Stephanie's friends, into losing her virginity to him by taking her to a fallout shelter and faking a nuclear attack ("Let's Do It for Our Country").
The next evening while working at a gas station/garage, Stephanie is surprised again by the Cool Rider, and they enjoy a romantic twilight motorcycle ride, which includes a kiss. Just as Michael is about to reveal his identity, they are interrupted by the arrival of the T-Birds and Pink Ladies. Before Michael leaves, he tells Stephanie that he will see her at the school talent show, in which the Pink Ladies and T-Birds are performing. Johnny, enraged by Stephanie's new romance, threatens to fight the Cool Rider if he sees him with her again. The Pink Ladies walk away haughtily, but this has little effect on the T-Birds' self-confidence ("Prowlin'").
At school, Stephanie's poor grades in English lead her to accept Michael's offer of help. Johnny, upon seeing them together in a discussion, demands that Stephanie quit the Pink Ladies to preserve his honor. Although still enchanted by the mysterious Cool Rider, interactions with Michael reveal that she has become romantically interested in him as well. Michael ponders over the continuing charade he puts on for Stephanie ("Charades").
At the talent show, Stephanie and the Cool Rider meet up but are abruptly ambushed by the T-Birds who pursue Michael on their respective motorcycles, with Stephanie, Sharon, Paulette, and Rhonda following in a car. They chase him to a construction site which conceals a deadly drop, and the biker's absence suggests that he has perished below, leaving Stephanie heartbroken and inconsolable. Johnny and his T-Birds remove the competing Preptones – preppie boys – by tying them to a shower pole in the boys' locker room and drenching them. During the Pink Ladies' performance in the talent show ("Girl for All Seasons"), Stephanie enters a dreamlike fantasy world where she is reunited with her mystery biker ("(Love Will) Turn Back the Hands of Time"). She is named winner of the contest and crowned the queen of the upcoming graduation luau, with Johnny hailed as king for his performance of "Prowlin'" with his fellow T-Birds.
The school year ends with the luau ("Rock-a-Hula Luau (Summer Is Coming)"), during which the Cycle Lords appear and begin to destroy the celebration. However, the Cool Rider reappears. After he defeats the Cycle Lords again, he reveals himself to be Michael. Initially shocked, Johnny gives him a T-Birds jacket, officially welcoming him into the gang, and Stephanie is delighted that she can now be with him. Michael and Stephanie share a very passionate kiss and he whispers that he loves her. All the couples pair off happily at the seniors' graduation as the graduating class sings ("We'll Be Together"). The credits start rolling in yearbook-style, as in the original film ("Back to School Again").
- Maxwell Caulfield as Michael Carrington, an English exchange student and Sandy's cousin. Upon meeting the leader of the Pink Ladies, Stephanie Zinone, Michael instantly falls in love with her. Michael comes up with his alter ego "Cool Rider" after failing to ask Stephanie out and learning she has a "certain type" of guy to date. Michael's new persona as the "Cool Rider" manages to make Stephanie fall in love with the alter ego and not Michael himself.
- Caulfield had already made his Broadway debut with roles in The Elephant Man and Entertaining Mr. Sloane. Having seen his performances, Allan Carr offered Caulfield the role of Michael over thousands of applicants. Unlike co-star Pfeiffer, Caulfield's career following Grease 2 was damaged by the film's failure. He has been quoted as saying: "Before Grease 2 came out, I was being hailed as the next Richard Gere or John Travolta. However, when Grease 2 flopped, nobody would touch me. It felt like a bucket of cold water had been thrown in my face. It took me 10 years to get over Grease 2."
- Michelle Pfeiffer as Stephanie Zinone, the leader of the Pink Ladies. Stephanie is sick of "being someone's chick" after her split with T-Birds leader Johnny and becomes infatuated by a mysterious biker (who is really Michael in disguise) and falls in love with him. Stephanie ends up also falling for the clean cut new guy Michael after he helps her with her essay and the two get closer. Stephanie tells Michael she would date him if there wasn't a pink lady code: "The Pink Ladies are the T-Birds chicks".
- With only a few television roles and small film appearances, Pfeiffer, then aged 23, was a relatively unknown actress when she attended the casting call audition for the role of Stephanie. Other actresses considered for the part included Lisa Hartman, Kristy McNichol, Andrea McArdle, and singer Pat Benatar. Pfeiffer was a wild card choice, but according to Birch, she won the part because she "has a quirky quality you don't expect."
The Pink Ladies
- Didi Conn as Frenchy
- Eve Arden as Principal McGee (Arden's final theatrical role)
- Sid Caesar as Coach Vince Calhoun
- Dody Goodman as Secretary Blanche Hodel
- Eddie Deezen as Eugene Felsnick
- Dennis C. Stewart as Leo Balmudo (Craterface), leader of the Cycle Lords (appeared as the gang leader of the Scorpions in the previous film)
- Dick Patterson as Mr. Spears (appeared as Mr. Rudie in the previous film)
- Tab Hunter as Mr. Stuart
- Connie Stevens as Miss Yvette Mason
- Jean and Liz Sagal as the Sorority / Cheerleader Twins
- Matt Lattanzi as Brad, one of the Prep-Tones
- Donna King as Girl Greaser (lead dancer)
- Lucinda Dickey as Girl Greaser
- Ivy Austin as Girl Greaser 'Francine'
- Andy Tennant as Boy Greaser 'Artie' (Arnold in Grease)
- Bernard Hiller as Boy Greaser
- Tom Villard as Boy Greaser 'Willie' (performs "Cry" at the talent show)
- Vernon Scott as Henry Dickey, one of the Prep-Tones
- Tom Willett as bowling alley manager (uncredited)
- Janet Jones as the girl who missed her last two periods (uncredited)
- William N. Clark as Cycle Salvage Yard Manager (uncredited) – also was a cameraman
- Aurelio Padron as Boy Greaser
- John Robert Garrett as Boy Greaser (Bubba in Grease)
- Helena Andreyko as Girl Greaser (Trix in Grease)
- Dennis Daniels as Boy Greaser (Bart in Grease)
- Vicki Hunter as Girl Greaser
- Sandra Gray as Girl Greaser (Big G. in Grease)
- John Allee as student with basketball (Calhoun: "We'll put high-heels on your sneakers and we'll make you a center!")
- Michael David Eilert as Boy Greaser (uncredited)
Grease co-producer Allan Carr had a deal with Paramount Pictures to be paid $5 million to produce a sequel, with production beginning within three years of the original film. Carr decided to hire Patricia Birch as director for the sequel, as she had previously served as the choreographer for the stage and film versions of Grease. Birch was initially hesitant to accept after learning that neither composers Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey nor John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John would be involved in the film. Bronte Woodard, the writer who adapted the original stage material for the original film, had died in 1980, and Canadian comic Ken Finkleman (who was also writing and directing Airplane II at the same time) was tasked with penning a new script mostly from scratch. The total budget for the production was $11.2 million, almost double the budget of the original.
Grease 2 was intended to be the second film (and first sequel) in a proposed Grease franchise of four films and a television series. (The third and fourth films were to take place in the 1960s and during the counterculture era.) However, the projects were scrapped due to the underwhelming box office performance of Grease 2. Maxwell Caulfield was unhappy with the film's "drab" title, and unsuccessfully lobbied to change it to Son of Grease.
Birch proposed an idea to feature Travolta and Newton-John reprising their characters as a now married couple running a gas station near the end of the film, with Travolta to sing a new number "Gas Pump Jockey;" this did not come to fruition. Paramount tried to get Jeff Conaway and Stockard Channing from the first film to do cameos but this did not happen (Channing, by then 37 years old, had left Hollywood for a time in the early 1980s to focus on her stage career). Early plans for Grease 2 had Conaway and Channing's characters, Kenickie and Rizzo, as main characters while they attended summer school.
Pfeiffer had only made a few films before:
That was really weird for me. I'd been taking singing lessons and I had taken dance, because I loved to dance, but I had never considered myself a professional at all. I went on this audition as a fluke, and somehow, through the process of going back and dancing, and then going back and singing, I ended up getting the part. I went crazy with that movie. I came to New York and the paparazzi were waiting at the hotel. I know the producers put them up to it. I am basically very private, and I'm really nervous about doing publicity. Every time I set up an interview, I say, "That's it, this is my last one. I'll do this because I committed to doing it, but I'm never doing another one." It was insane.
Lorna Luft was the last star cast. The part played by Connie Stevens was originally meant for Annette Funicello but she was unable to appear because her schedule as Skippy peanut butter spokeswoman did not allow her time to film the scene.
Scenes at Rydell High School were filmed at Excelsior High School, a recently closed high school in Norwalk, California. Filming took place throughout a 58-day shooting schedule during the autumn of 1981. According to director Birch, the script was still incomplete when filming commenced. Sequences that were filmed but cut during post-production include scenes in which Frenchy helps Michael become a motorcycle rider, and a sequence at the end of the film showing Michael and Stephanie flying off into the sky on a motorcycle.
In the film, after Stephanie wins the contest, it goes on to show the stakeout in the final scene. Originally, there were a few minutes dedicated to a scene in which Michael (believed to be dead in his alter ego, by Stephanie) comes out on stage as Stephanie is exiting the stage, unbeknownst to her that he is the cool rider and he is alive. He attempts to ask her what's wrong and she storms past him and runs off crying, then it cuts to the stakeout. There was a scene within the "Who's that Guy?" number in which Goose accidentally smashes Rhonda's nose at the Bowl-A-Rama door. None of these scenes have been shown since the film's release.
|Label||RSO (Original issue) |
- "Back to School Again" – Cast and The Four Tops (verses by the Pink Ladies are absent from the soundtrack)
- "Score Tonight" – T-Birds, Pink Ladies, Cast
- "Brad" – Noreen and Doreen
- "Cool Rider" – Stephanie
- "Reproduction" – Mr. Stuart and Students
- "Who's That Guy?" – Michael, T-Birds, Pink Ladies, Cycle Lords, and Cast
- "Do It for Our Country" – Louis and Sharon (Sharon's part is absent from the soundtrack)
- "Prowlin'" – Johnny and T-Birds
- "Charades" – Michael
- "Girl for All Seasons" – Sharon, Paulette, Rhonda, and Stephanie
- "(Love Will) Turn Back the Hands of Time" – Stephanie and Michael
- "Rock-a-Hula Luau (Summer Is Coming)" – Cast
- "We'll Be Together" – Michael, Stephanie, Johnny, Paulette, and Cast
Featured as background music at Rydell Sport Field:
- "Moon River" (The Spirit of Troy- University of Southern California Marching Band)
Featured as background music at the bowling alley:
- "Our Day Will Come" – Ruby & The Romantics (Grease 2 takes place in 1961–62 and "Our Day Will Come" did not come out until 1963)
- "Rebel Walk" – Duane Eddy (this was the B-side of his biggest hit "Because They're Young")
Featured at the beginning:
- "Alma Mater" – Instrumental (this song was played at the beginning when Principal McGee and Blanche put up the 1961 Rydell flag)
As of September 2021[update], on Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an approval rating of 39% based on 36 reviews, with an average rating of 4.4/10. The site's consensus read: "Grease 2 is undeniably stocked with solid songs and well-choreographed dance sequences, but there's no getting around the fact that it's a blatant retread of its far more entertaining predecessor." As of October 2020[update], on Metacritic it had a score of 52% based on reviews from 11 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Janet Maslin of The New York Times condemned the film as "dizzy and slight, with an even more negligible plot than its predecessor had. This time the story can't even masquerade as an excuse for stringing the songs together. Songs? What songs? The numbers in Grease 2 are so hopelessly insubstantial that the cast is forced to burst into melody about pastimes like bowling."
Variety commended the staging of the musical numbers, writing that Patricia Birch has come up with some unusual settings (a bowling alley, a bomb shelter) for some of the scenes, and employs some sharp montage to give most of the songs and dances a fair amount of punch."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2 stars out of 4, saying: "This movie just recycles Grease, without the stars, without the energy, without the freshness and without the grease."
Pfeiffer received positive notices for her first major role. The New York Times review cited her performance as the "one improvement" on the original film: "Miss Pfeiffer is as gorgeous as any cover girl, and she has a sullen quality that's more fitting to a Grease character than Miss Newton-John's sunniness was." Variety wrote that she was "all anyone could ask for in the looks department, and she fills Olivia Newton-John's shoes and tight pants very well." Pfeiffer told the Los Angeles Times three years later:
That film was a good experience for me. It taught me a valuable lesson. Before it even came out the hype had started. Maxwell and I were being thrust down the public's throat in huge full page advertisements. There was no way we could live up to any of that and we didn't. So the crash was very loud. But it did teach me not to have expectations.
Pfeiffer was nominated for a 1983 Young Artist Award in the category of Best Young Motion Picture Actress.
The film was nominated for a Stinkers Bad Movie Awards for Worst Picture. Later on, the Stinkers would unveil their picks for the 100 worst films of the 20th century with their "100 Years, 100 Stinkers" list. Grease 2 ranked in the listed bottom 20 at #13.
The film was given a special screening at the 2021 online TCM Festival. (Source: TCM website)
Plans for a third filmEdit
In 2003, Olivia Newton-John confirmed that a second sequel was being developed. "They're writing it, and we'll see what happens. If the script looks good, I'll do it. But I haven't seen the script, and it has to be cleverly done."
The film was later adapted into a musical, "Cool Rider", with the script re-written and modified for the stage.
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