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Blu-ray Review: Grease: 40th Anniversary Edition

April 25, 2018

By John Corrado

One of the highest grossing and most well loved movie musicals of all time, the 1978 classic Grease is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and Paramount is marking the occasion with a new Blu-ray edition of the film that comes in collectible Rydell High yearbook packaging.

The film of course stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in two of their most iconic roles as Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson, who find out they are in the same Chicago high school after falling in love over a summer fling, and try to rekindle their romance.  He’s an American greaser who leads a gang called the T-Birds, and she is a good girl from Australia who hangs around with the Pink Ladies, a clique led by Rizzo (Stockard Channing).

Directed by Randal Kleiser, Grease serves as a rousing tribute to 1950s rock and roll culture, and it’s set to a soundtrack of classic songs from “Summer Nights” to “You’re the One That I Want” and the Oscar-nominated “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, that are still just as catchy forty years later.  The film was based on a stage show from 1971 that was originally performed at a small theatre in Chicago, which became an overnight success and went to Broadway before being adapted for the big screen.

The film became a huge hit with audiences upon its release, and is still seen as a bona fide classic.  It’s filled with so many classic scenes, iconic moments, and famous characters, that it’s no surprise it has managed to have such cultural staying power over the years.  While there are elements of Grease that do feel dated, there is also a timeless quality to the film, not only harkening back to the 1970s when it was made, but also the 1950s when the story is set.  The fact that it is able to maintain a charming innocence despite some of the edgier material, is one of the things that has allowed it to attract such a wide audience over the years.

The film arrived directly after John Travolta’s critically acclaimed performance in Saturday Night Fever a year earlier, and while that one is the more serious of the two films, Grease is simply pure fun.  I’ve seen it multiple times over the years, and I still enjoy it every single time that I watch it.  It’s one of those movies that has incredible replay value, and it remains an infectiously entertaining good time that is hard not to enjoy.  The 40th anniversary edition offers a good chance for fans to revisit the film in all of its glory, offering a noticeable upgrade in quality from the original DVD release.

The Blu-ray comes with a selection of new bonus features including the featurette Grease: A Chicago Story, an interesting piece that focuses on the original stage production; an alternate version of the animated main titles that feature a different song and was recently found in the Paramount vaults; and a new alternate ending that is presented in colour for the first time, after previously only being available as a black and white work print.

The disc also comes with the bonus features from previous releases, including a commentary track with Randall Kleiser and choreographer Patricia Birch, a brief introduction by Kleiser, the excellent featurette The Time, The Place, The Motion: Remembering Grease, footage from the 20th anniversary reunion party in 1998, as well as deleted and extended scenes, some interviews with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, and more.  The film is also being released in 4K, but that edition unfortunately doesn’t have the pretty cool yearbook packaging.

Grease: 40th Anniversary Edition is a Paramount release.  It’s 110 minutes and rated PG.

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