Saturday, 28 March 2015
"Rock Hudson lost his heart to Doris Day."
Yeah, right. Suuure he did.
I'm sure I'm not the only man to have been forced to watch this film by my better half but, cliched though it may be, that is how I came to see this, a film I wouldn't normally watch. You can thank Mrs Llamastrangler for this post.
First impressions are that this is a fairly straight-up romantic musical. There's a lot of humour, but none of it is metatextual; its a fairly straight take on the tropes of high school romance with songs. And there's nothing wrong with that; it works, although the ending, in which our lovers finally get together, feels somewhat rushed.
Second impression is that this may be set in the 1950's but, like Happy Days, it's giving us a very '70s version of the '50s, something not quite like the '50s as they were or, indeed, the '50s as shown in popular culture today. But for Grease, of course, the '50s were only as long ago as the '90s are to us, with the gap in social mores not looming so large.
Oh, and there's a certain obvious debt to Romeo and Juliet, although perhaps in this case more through the medium of West Side Story.
I won't say much about the songs; they do what they're supposed to do, but they're not really my think, and don't really evoke '50s rock 'n' roll, not even Greased Lightning. They're show tunes mixed with s little disco, which fits just a little oddly with the setting. But I'll make a load of observations...
1. So that's why Lauren Laverne called her band "Kenickie" back in the '99s. The penny drops. This is why all films that have permeated popular culture to this extent need to be watched, or pop culture references will go unrecognised.
2. I'm surprised they let Olivia Newton-John use her natural Aussie accent, especially as the script and characterisation make no real reference to her Antipodean origins.
3. American high schools seem to be conformist hells anyway. '50s American high schools are seemingly much worse.
4. The Blob is on at the drive-in. Nice!
5. Fanny Flagg!!! Titter. Chortle. Etc.
6. It's refreshing to see a PE teacher- Sud Caesar's Coach Calhoun- not being portrayed as a thug for once.
Musicals are not my thing, unless there a quirkiness to them, and this is a straight-aged musical. Still, it's well enough made, and at least I've finally ticked this film off. Just never make me watch it again.