Not so very long ago, The Great Escape would regularly turn up in the Bank Holiday TV schedules. It was often screened over Christmas, joining the likes of The Sound of Music or the film of Dad’s Army in an unofficial line-up of WW2 themed festive jollity.
It seems to be on less these days, but whenever The Great Escape pops up on telly I like to carry on my traditional viewing of the Steve McQueen motorbike escape chase towards the end of the film. Just to see if he makes it this time. Just to see if once, just once, I’ll be watching a special version in which he gives the Nazis the slip. Of course, he never does. But that doesn’t stop me from shouting ‘Go on Steve…go on Steve…go on Steve…Oh, Damn!’ until whoever I’m watching TV with backs slowly out of the room and comes back with a Calippo and some bourbon to soothe my anger.
Similarly, whenever I watch Grease 2, I find myself hoping* that one of the characters will work out that the Cool Rider who Stephanie gets all excited by is just Michael in some large googles. For after Steph dances away at the end of Cool Rider, one of the T-Birds (T is for Tossmonkey) approaches Michael with a business proposition: they want to pay Michael to do their homework for them. And Michael agrees. Pretty soon, he’s doing homework for all of the T-Birds (How come none of the teachers notice? I’m guessing that pre-Michael the T-Birds either did no homework at all or handed in poorly rendered drawings of ‘lady parts’) so that he can buy himself a motorbike.
So he gets a crappy bike, learns to ride it in about 2 scenes and suddenly the vehicle’s all shiny. You’d think that the bike would get a musical tribute (‘Greased Lightin’ style) but strangely it doesn’t.
Instead, Michael slaps on his biker gear and rides around a bit in front of his classmates, miraculously knocking over baddies (the gang of hoodlums led by Crater Face, the sneery meany from Grease 1) without actually touching them. Stephanie is smitten. People sing ‘Who’s That Guy?’ And then…
Well…Stephanie has a dangerous (but sexy) bike ride with the Cool Rider. Johnny gets jealous. Stephanie gets close to google-free Michael (who has started doing her homework too and has also inexplicably started talking like Michael Caine). Michael can’t handle the deception and sings about it**. The Cool Rider makes a dangerous jump on his bike and goes missing (presumed squished). And then…well…at the end of year luau (yes) Cool Rider turns up, unmasks and everyone sings a sing called ‘We’ll be Together’. (This song is not as good as the song with the same name at the end of the original Grease.) Fin.
I read somewhere that Grease 2 started shooting without a finished script. This would certainly explain the weird patchwork quilt of subplots that don’t quite hold together. In an effort to distract from the wonky story telling, the second half of the film is padded out with a lot of slightly ropey songs about shagging. These songs are not really connected to the plot, but that’s ok as the songs which are connected to the plot (‘Charades’, ‘Love Will Turn Back the Hands of Time’) are even worse.
On the sex song front there’s ‘Let’s Do It For Our Country’ (T-Bird Goose almost convinces his Pink Lady lady friend that nuclear war has started and therefore they must shag. This is all sorts of wrong. And was kind of the inspiration for a terrible Pepsi advert a couple of years ago.), ‘Prowlin’ (all of the T-Birds sing about picking up sexy ladies on their blokey trips around town, even though said trips probably more likely to involve spitting and making rude armpit noises) and then there’s ‘Reproduction’. Oh. Dear. God.
I was going to include a link to the YouTube clip for this song here, but it’s probably not a good idea. That thing is ear-wormy. Do a search for ‘Reproduction Grease 2’ if you like, but please be warned that you may find yourself singing about stamens, pollen tubes and ‘sexual occasions’ (presumably these include Sexual Birthdays, Sexual Christmas and Sexual Pentecost) for the next three weeks or so.
Something I’ve noticed in re-watching Grease 2 is the weird to-do with Caufield’s eyebrows midway through the film. From some (but not all – Grease 2 might look like they made it up as they went along but it probably wasn’t like that.) scenes midway through the film they start to look a bit, well, drawn on. Like he shaved them off and they were painted back on by someone who had never seen eyebrows before. Someone needs to re-edit the film so his brows make sense. Grease 2: The Eyebrow Cut. I’d watch.
Anyway, Grease 2 – no, it’s not as good as Grease 1. They didn’t put enough thought into the story. Or the songs. The characters are pretty unlikeable and unmemorable. But I find that I can’t dislike Grease 2. That’d be like laughing at a puppy that’s just been kicked. Plus, it’s watchable. Watchable in the way that a lot of bad films aren’t.
Also, here’s a thing, there are people who like Grease 2 more than Grease 1. I’ve met them. And somewhere, possibly, perhaps one of them is probably writing a thing about how lame they think the original Grease was.
*Presumably some part of me thinks that films with motorbikes in them are magical and therefore interactive. One day, if I’m feeling especially masochistic, I might try watching I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle*** sometime to see if I can make it into some kind of cinematic ‘Choose your own adventure’ book.
**Because the important thing is to always be yourself. Though in order to persuade the person you are in love/lust with to get off with you, you might have to pretend to be someone else for a bit. So, be yourself even when you’re except when you’re not being yourself. Be yourself even when you’re not being yourself in sexy trousers. That’s the important message of both Greases.
**Late 80s British horror comedy starring Neil Morrissey. I haven’t seen it, but a friend with an even greater fondness for peculiar films than my own watched it on YouTube and sagely described it as ‘a bit bollocky.’