Thursday, February 5, 2009

DVD Review: Grease - Rockin' Rydell Edition

As it was for many of you, Grease was a movie that captured and thrilled me for its two hour showing. Car racing, teenage drama, and pure unadulterated sex; what more could any teen ask for in a movie? Unlike most of you, I am currently the age you were when you first saw Grease. Thirty years after this monster of a movie hit the big screens it still packs the same punch it had when it first came out. The scenes are still memorable, the songs still upbeat and catchy, and that Rizzo character still confuses you. Grease: Rockin' Rydell Edition is the same movie you were used to, with some new interesting add-ons.

From the opening animations of the main characters to the ending carnival song and dance, this movie is a high school masterpiece. Modern versions, such as High School Musical, come nowhere close to touching the mantelpiece that Grease is on. Throughout the movie I found myself singing along, clapping at the right moments, and attempting to learn that "Hand Jive" dance. The struggle between Danny and Sandy is still enough to pull at your heartstrings. The drama between Rizzo and Kenickie still has the fire and passion of the original. Nothing has changed in the actual movie, and that is what makes the Rockin' Rydell Edition so good. This edition, however, still leaves you with the longing to discover where that secluded beach is, and how to get there.

Grease tells the ordinary '60s/'70s high school story — the jocks, the punks, the sluts, and the drama. After a brief view of summer bliss on the beach between two lovers (Danny and Sandy), the main movie starts with you meeting the T-Birds, a small group of car-heads that pretend to be tough men. They are led by the charismatic Danny (John Travolta) and his right hand man Kenickie (Jeff Conaway). The love interest(s) of the T-Birds are the Pink Ladies, a group lead by Rizzo (Stockard Channing) which Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) quickly joins. The plot unfolds as car races, sex, and an unplanned pregnancy take effect. It wraps up with a carnival song and dance.

For those of you who don't know, Grease is one of the movies that launched John Travolta to film stardom. Known mostly to TV fans as Vinnie Barbarino in Welcome Back, Kotter, Travolta's movie career was ignited by his roles in Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Grease. Olivia Newton-John played the role of Danny's sexy love interest, the beautiful Sandy. The cast is rounded out by Stockard Channing (Rizzo), Jeff Conaway (Kenickie), Barry Pearl (Doody), Michael Tucci (Sonny), Kelly Ward (Putzie), Didi Conn (Frenchy), Jamie Donnelly (Jan), and Dinah Manoff (Marty).

While the movie itself might not have changed, the additional features certainly add a lot to this DVD. There are the obligatory trailers, commentaries, and deleted scenes; however, there are a fair number of nice add-ons like the sing-along and the Thunder Roadsters. There is even an adorable letter jacket cover on the DVD. With 13 add-ons, Grease: Rockin' Rydell Edition is the whole package.

DVD extras include:

* Commentary by Director Randal Kleiser and Choreographer Patricia Birch
* Rydell Sing-Along
* "The Time, The Place, The Motion: Remembering Grease"
* Deleted/Extended/Alternate scenes
* Grease Launch Party
* Grease Memories from John and Olivia
* The Moves Behind the Music
* Thunder Roadsters
* Travolta and Carr “Grease Day” Interview
* Olivia Newton-John and Robert Stigwood “Grease Day” Interview
* Theatrical Trailer
* Photo Galleries
* Previews

My favorite DVD extra happens to be the "Rydell Sing-Along." This feature has the original song clips from the movie with superimposed text of the song as subtitles. It even includes color-coded text if it is a duet song (like "Summer Loving"). This feature is a nice addition as it allows you to get all of the catchy songs right, even the ones that are sung exceptionally fast. The only thing missing is a bouncing Disney-style ball to keep you cued up.

My least favorite DVD extra was the director and choreographer commentary. It might just be me, but I have never understood why people actually pay extra money to get these items. Only Titanic (which, coincidently has a special edition mentioned in this movie) and The Matrix had commentaries worth the money. I wish that the makers of this DVD had included more extra features instead of commentary, especially because this commentary is almost identical to that on other editions of the DVD.

Over all, I would rate Grease: Rockin' Rydell Edition to be a worthy addition to any Grease collection that you have. Even if you have never seen the original movie, it is worth picking up this edition at your local store.

Grease: Rockin' Rydell Edition is available at stores across America.

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