1958. Danny (Travolta) has a holiday romance with squeaky-clean Australian tourist Sandy (Newton-John). She sticks around and ends up going to the same high school. They meet again. They tiff. They make up. They tiff again. And so on. But that's only the story – it's the songs that matter here.
If there have only been a handful of successful screen musicals since Grease first appeared, it's mainly because very few of them can hold a candle to the memorable song-and-dance routines and all-round exuberance on offer here. Unlike the other film from the late 70's that everyone remembers - Star Wars, Grease isn't necessarily one of those films that needs to be seen on the big screen to be appreciated fully. But the fun to be derived from going into a cinema to watch the highlights from the class of Rydell High's senior year with a like-minded audience renders this a truly unmissable experience.
However, Grease is a bit of a strange movie to be considered classic, given its lack of merit in other departments. The acting is hardly Oscar quality (although the gleefully mocking Channing and Conaway provide some spark), the direction is pedestrian, and it's likely that better scripts have been penned on postage stamps.
But ironically, it's this clunky kitsch quality that makes Grease such a perpetual joy, even after repeated viewings. There's something delightful about watching people obviously long out of school trying to play 17 again (Channing, in particular, was 32 when she took on the role of Rizzo) while they croon the likes of Greased Lightning and Summer Nights. The innocence of the decade is affectionately and none-too-seriously captured - though they may have dressed differently in the 1950s, 17-year-olds were rebellious too.
For its' 20th anniversary, there was a celebratory sprucing up - the sound effects are sharper, the print cleaner, the songs louder than ever before. Which is the icing on the cake for a film which almost no one will admit to liking, but is still universally adored. In short, re-release heaven.
Released: 01 October 2002
There are a number of bonus bits that are interesting as historical pieces if nothing else: the original trailer, and best of all, a featurette including retrospective interviews with the most important cast and crew.
It's every bit the great songfest it's hailed as, with bucketloads of innuendo thown in behind some of the most energetic musical numbers ever to grace the inside of a movie theatre.
Reviewed by Caroline Westbrook