Plot: What’s it about?
A summer romance, between a visiting Australian girl named Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and local boy Danny (John Travolta), doomed to end once the season has ended. The bond was formed quickly, but was strong, even though both knew it wouldn’t last. But when Sandy winds up staying and ends up at the same high school at Danny, fate seems to have intervened. But she soon discovers that Danny is much different when he is around his friends, a far cry from the boy she fell for over the summer. In school, Danny is a tough greaser who refuses to show his sensitive side and insists his feelings for Sandy were a charade. After all, how could a hard edged guy like him fall for a preppie girl like her, right? But even as he denies his feelings for her and pretends to go back to business as usual, inside he longs to be back at her side. Of course, he can’t be honest and risk his status as leader of the pack, but how much longer can he stand to hold it in? And to what lengths will Sandy go to in order to make sure Danny is reminded of what they shared? Can true love exist, even between two kids from different worlds, or is this romance doomed?
Even if you don’t like musicals, this is one of the rare genre films that is a fair gamble, as Grease is more than the typical musical. While I prefer the outlandish, campish sequel Grease 2, the original Grease is a landmark film that remains wildly popular even after almost three decades. The reason? I think it is because the movie is so much fun to watch, there is a constant flow of entertainment on showcase. The story is a universal one, good girl falls for bad boy, but with some nice twists thrown in. The innocent setting is hilarious, given all the bawdy antics on display, but the whole bikers and preppies adds to the universal appeal, I suppose. Then you have a very fun cast, headed up by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The leads are fun, but the supporting players add a lot to the movie as well, with memorable characters and some wonderful guest appearances. But of course, we can’t leave out the musical numbers, with fun songs that grow on you. If you’ve been to many karaoke nights, chances are you’ve heard these songs before and more than a few times. As you can tell from the numerous uses of the word “fun,” I think Grease is a blast to watch. Paramount’s new Rockin’ Rydell Edition offers more goodies than the previous disc, so this new version is recommended.
Video: How does it look?
Grease is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a new transfer and a much improved one at that, so fans should be pleased. The original transfer had a lot of grain and lacked fine detail, but both of those issues have been solved here. The image is much cleaner and brighter this time around, a warmer and more refined presentation. Where colors were faded, now the hues are vivid and instead of blurry details, we have a crisp texture. There is still some softness, but depth is much improved and this is a 1970s production, so softness is more or less expected. I am thrilled that Paramount conjured up this new transfer, as some studios would have been fine with a recycled presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
While the transfer wasn’t recycled, the soundtrack was, as we’ve been given the same Dolby Digital 5.1 option from the original release. As expected, the musical numbers have a lot of life and the surrounds are great when it comes to the soundtrack. Even so, there isn’t much power or depth, just solid presence and while acceptable, this could have sounded a lot richer. The same holds true for general surround use as well, there is some, but not enough. I found dialogue to be clear and free from woes however. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, a French language track, and English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
I think the coolest of the supplements is the karaoke mode, in which eleven songs turn into sing-a-longs, you can even enable a mode to do this as you watch the movie. I loved this feature and for fans, this could add a lot of fun to the experience. A few featurettes can also be found, including a look at the 25th Anniversary DVD launch party, which is an interesting inclusion. This disc also includes some photo galleries, as well as a selection of deleted and alternate scenes.