When July and August roll around, many a thankful parent begins to welcome the back-to-school atmosphere the end of summer brings. After the shopping is done, why not sit back and enjoy your first, 100th or millionth viewing of “Grease” – the quintessential back-to-school movie. It has romance, gangs, fast cars, drag racing, athletics, friendships, teen pregnancy and guardian angels – what more could you ask for? The “Grease Rockin’ Rydell Edition” with tons of bonus features, of course!
Grease as a Movie Musical
When “Grease” was released in 1978, it cemented John Travolta’s place on the A-List. Riding high on his success as Vinnie Barbarino on TV’s “Welcome Back Kotter” and as Tony Manero in the disco dance craze hit movie “Saturday Night Fever” from the previous year, Travolta was in apposition to pick his leading lady. He chose wisely in the form of Olivia Newton-John. The scarcely tired actress was more famous for her soaring vocals but was the perfect fit to play Sandy, the love interest to Travolta’s Danny Zuko.
The film is to this date, the highest grossing musical ever in the United States. The soundtrack also did impressively well. With memorable songs long “Hopelessly Devoted to You” which was nominated for an Academy Award, rocking duets between Travolta and Newton-Jon like “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One That I Want” and the title song “Grease”, which became a number 1 hit for Frankie Valli, the album finished 1978 in second place – behind the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack.
Sandy, an exchange student in town for the summer and Danny, leader of the T-Birds and local leather jacketed, teenage heart throb meet and have a summer romance which ends when Sandy’s family must return home. School starts and Danny is surprised to see Sandy attending his high school, Rydell High. Torn between wanting to be with her and not wanting to give up his cool image, Danny tries to juggle both aspects of himself. The hijinks and hormones take over as Danny tries to woo Sandy back and still hold his place as leader of the pack.
Special Features for “Grease (Rockin’ Rydell Edition)”
Director Commentary from Randal Kleiser with choreographer Patricia Birch
Optionally activated Rydell Sing-Along which displays lyrics as the songs appear in the film
Featurette: "The Time, The Place, The Motion: Remembering Grease"
Introduction by Director Randal Kleiser
Grease on DVD Launch Party
Grease Memories from John & Olivia
Trailers, Interviews, and more
What Do Fans Think?
On Amazon, the Blu-Ray has an overall rating of 4.5 out 5. With 1,167 reviews to date, that’s pretty high praise.
Some fans complained that the release included a flawed, remixed soundtrack and complained that the original was better. Others complained that the transfer to Blu-Ray was not done as effectively as it could have been, especially for a 20th anniversary edition. Soundtrack preferences are a matter of personal opinion as are the quality of the film. Everyone has their own opinion of what is acceptable and what isn’t. With great songs like “Beauty School Dropout” and Stranded at the Drive-in”, you can’t go wrong.
All in all any edition of “Grease” is going to be a fun, back-to-school trip down memory lane. Personally, I enjoyed the “Rockin’ Rydell” edition as much for the original movie as for the special features. And while I knew most of the words to all the songs, it was fun to share the karaoke-style feature with my kids and sing along together.