PG Dir: Randal Kleiser | Paramount | 110 min.
Review By: Matt Brighton | January 28th, 2012
Plot: What’s it about?
There are some films in Paramount’s vault of catalog titles that are, always have been and most likely always will be pure gold. One of those titles in question is “Grease”, the movie that made John Travolta a star and one of the most endearing musicals of all-time. Odds are that even if you haven’t seen the film, you undoubtedly know the songs and with classics like “Summer Love” and “You’re the One that I Want” it’s kind of hard not to get into the film and really enjoy it. “Grease” was so successful that it inspired a sequel, the aptly-named “Grease 2” and these were in the days when sequels weren’t that commonplace. “Grease 2” didn’t live up to the original, but did have its share of good moments. Regardless if you’re a fan of musicals, there’s something alluring about “Grease” that makes it one of the more entertaining and enjoyable films out there.
What Grease lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in sheer fun. The musical numbers of the fabulous 50’s sound just as good as they can and the cast seemed to have fun while doing the movie, it just shows. Essentially Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) had met earlier that Summer (hence the “Summer Nights” song), but now school has started and their romance has ended. But, as luck would have it, they are reunited when Sandy arrives at the same school as an exchange student (what are the odds). Danny, initially overjoyed to see his lost love, quickly becomes a very different person in order to keep his cool with his buddies. Sandy pursues Danny and eventually decides the way to win him back again is to become like him, part of a gang and hence we have the “slut Sandy” as she’s been called (though it’s more of a slang term). Though the course of this, we meet up with some rather interesting characters and some even have their own solos (“Beauty School Dropout”, etc.).
The essential message of Grease tries to recreate the atmosphere of the 50’s, then only twenty some years in the past. While the movie is a bit dated, it stands up well over time. Personally, I felt that the movie took itself a bit too seriously and I prefer the Maxwell Caulfield/Michelle Pfeiffer duo that graced Grease 2 (though that’s a no show on DVD as of this writing). The truth is that Grease is just one of those movies that you have to see. It’s a great musical, and it fares well as a love story too (it found a way onto the American Film Institute’s Top 100 love stories of all time). We see Travolta dance, as he usually does and the ensemble cast and songs are great to sing along to. Chances are they showed this on cable time after time, but there’s no other way to see this except on Blu-ray.
Video: How does it look?
“Grease” has gone through a couple of incarnations on the home video format and this Blu-ray (in theory) should be the best one yet. The 2.20:1 AVC HD transfer is the best the film has ever looked and though there are some signs of age, by and large the transfer pops. The thing that struck me the most were the colors, from the blue tint of the sky to the very colorful costumes of the chorus. Detail has been bumped up a bit from the standard DVD release, though with a film of this age there’s still a bit of softness in some of the scenes. While the film isn’t the best-looking title out there, it’s the best it has ever looked and until we have a new format on our hands this is the one to beat.
Audio: How does it sound?
As with most of Paramount’s catalog titles, the previous Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has been replaced by a Dolby TrueHD uncompressed track. “Grease” does have some truly good-sounding moments and if a musical doesn’t sound that good then really, what’s the point? The soundtrack resonates through all the speakers giving us some ambiance and I was surprised at how much the surrounds really came into play. There were some surprises as well such as when the hot rod car starts up, the fire coming from the exhaust activated the LFE which sounded awesome. Dialogue sounds good as well, though most of the dialogue is in the form of song. Suffice it to say that “Grease” sounds as good as ever.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A few years ago, a “Rockin’ Rydell” edition of this movie was released and this is merely the Blu-ray version of that (minus the leather jacket or letterman sweater cover, no less). All of the supplements that were present on the DVD are here. We start out with an audio commentary and introduction by director Randal Kleiser and the choreographer Patricia Birch. The two give an engaging track and it’s more of a trip down memory lane as opposed to any sort of technical commentary. Still, the dancing is amazing and it’s a testament to these two that made that happen. There are a dozen deleted, extended and alternate scenes that were all ported over to this edition ? none are really of substance which is most likely why they were on the cutting room floor. The remainder of the supplements are just a bevy of featurettes that focus on the musical numbers, memories of the film and we get a reunion with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Of note, we do have a karaoke version that allows us to sing along with our favorite songs. The theatrical trailer is also included in HD.
- (2.35:1) Aspect Ratio
- Video Codec: AVC
- Audio: Dolby TrueHD
- Theatrical Trailer
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scene(s)
- Digital Copy
- 1 Disc Set