| Ordinarily, a VideoHole indicates that we couldn't stand the mere thought of watching any major movie releases for a particular weekend; it's our own sad little "up yours" to the cinematic distribution schedule. And while that's certainly the case this weekend, there's another, more positive, more entertainment-affirming reason to spotlight a home video selection. The wait is over, dear readers; the prayers of, well, at least a couple dozen die-hard Michelle Pfeiffer fans have been answered: Grease 2 is out on DVD.
Hailing from 1982, an ancient and mysterious time when sequels were not included in the boilerplate business plan for a movie, Grease 2 attempts to re-capture the magic of its numeral-free predecessor by switching the genders on the protagonists. The original Grease followed sweet, clean-cut Sandy on her quest to slut it up and put out to land bad-boy Danny (we never said we agreed with or even particularly liked the first movie, mind you, but its domestic grosses were indeed magical).
This time around, Sandy's cousin Michael arrives at good ol' Rydell High from England and falls for Stephanie, the tough leader of the Pink Ladies. Michael's all cute and dreamy in that Russell-Crowe-before-his-legal-drinking-age kind of way, but Stephanie doesn't even know he exists. To get Steph's attention, Michael will have to Change His Appearance and do a Bunch of Dumb Shit. Brain-damaged makeover hijinks ensue.
Of course, Stephanie is only "tough" relative to the movie-musical universe, which means she chews a lot of gum and tends to walk in a way that reminded us of a particularly brutal bladder infection. We couldn't tell if Pfeiffer wanted to give Stephanie a sort of anywhere's-better-than-here edge, or if the actress herself simply wanted desperately to be anywhere other than that movie. But we can't say we blame her.
Then again, the toughness of everybody in the movie has been toned down to the point of satire. Only the boys smoke; nobody has any sex at all (although the T-Birds do sing a bizarre ditty comprised of a grocery-store sexual entendre that we're still trying to figure out) and do you know what these delinquents do to unwind and have fun? Do you know how those twisted punks get their kicks, huh? They...they bowl. Not only that, they bowl while singing about how they're going to "score tonight" and dancing provocatively with bowling balls. We couldn't make this stuff up, people.
As you can probably ascertain, the script is the film's main weakness. But the problems don't stop with the spoken word, not by a long shot. What really sets Grease 2 apart from other bad movies are its horrid songs. Lyrics like "Who's that guy on the motorcycle?/What would they think if they knew it was Michael?" and "Humma humma humma humma hummin' a song now!/Summa summa summer it's a comin' along now!" are bad enough, but entire musical numbers such as the aforementioned grocery nookie song and the huge ensemble piece about reproduction seem to defy the love of music itself.
But none of them can compare to Pfeiffer's showstopper: "Cool Rider," a description of Stephanie's dream guy ("a rider that's cool"). Near as we can tell, no irony was invoked in the creation or performance of the song at any point. Even when Pfeiffer climbs a ladder and sits astride it singing about a "cool" frickin' "rider," she gives no indication that something sexual might be involved. Which makes the dance step at the end of the song utterly hilarious: Pfeiffer ends on a fade out ("C-O-O-L/R-I-D-E-R") and covers a fair amount of ground as she does a move we call "dry-humping-the-air" while jumping forward. It's done fairly rapidly, resulting in a quick 8-count of "hump-hump-hump-hump, half-turn, half-turn; hump-hump-hump-hump, half-turn, half-turn." We had to view the fade-out repeatedly, showing our roommates and their (extremely patient) visiting friends the hump-step several times. How Pfeiffer's career survived such, um, exposure is one of Hollywood's minor miracles.
Will Michael undergo a Lorenzo-Lamas-as-Renegade transformation to win Stephanie's affections? Will he also sing a horrible extended metaphor ("Charaaaaades!") in a voice that wobbles like Martin Lawrence on a freeway? Will Steph hallucinate a deceased Cool Rider imploring her from the Great Beyond not to forget him during the big school talent show? Will you cringe in wonder at a group of---if not talented, at least somewhat decent-seeming people---performing some of the most reprehensible dialogue and music in recorded history? That's an affirmative.
Remember, "yeesh" is the word.