'It takes more than a coat of paint to make it at Thunder Road'- a prophetic word from the Scorpion leader?.

Every now and then a movie studio will re-release a film that has been around for ten years or more, been on various forms of video and pay cable. The reasons for the release varies. It could be because the original film was mangled up in a version that the filmmakers didn’t want, and an earlier print ‘found in vaults’ was closer to the intended cut (Blade Runner), or filmmakers like George Lucas And James Cameron want to use CGI and updated sound technology to enhance or change their films (Star Wars the planned Titanic 3D). Then there are those rare happenings, which a studio chooses to re-release a film simply to make a fast buck. Such is the case of the re-release of 1978’s “Grease”, which was a huge hit back then and still holds up in terms of goofy fun and catchy songs. Even ten years or so, there was the horrid yet very popular “Grease Medley” played over varied Top 40 pop stations and social gatherings. I remember my older sister, Kristine having the original soundtrack (record vinyl, folks- how far we have come!) and the inside album looked like a high school yearbook from the 50’s. To me and my sisters, it was a fun movie. To our parents it had a bit of nostalgia in spite of the raunchy humor. How does this generation get exposed to Grease? Through a re-release equal to that of a big screen version of a karaoke machine.

'Tell me more, tell me more, now give me a greeting card..

After seeing the trailer for Grease Sing-A-Long the other day, I am kind of curious how they will handle the opening song over the animated opening credits, if they will throw in a few lyrics to LaBamba while the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies go for ice cream, or show us what Sha-Na-Na is really singing when they cover songs during The Prom/Dance Contest. More to the point, I fear the screenings of the film. It’s bad enough that people talk on a cell phone in a movie theater, now a film encourages folks to sound like the next crop of American Idol rejects. Nice going. For those people going to see this just for the sole purpose of seeing it on a big screen again (one could hop they would be shown at the last few remaining Drive -Ins across the land. Imagine Sing Alongs in venues like those.

Surreal.

But that’s not my main concern with this version of the film itself. After all, it can be said that people have been known to see films several times and quote the characters as the actors speak the lines, have a chuckle at a joke or character’s one liner, or a moment where the action takes off and the audience gets into it. So I suppose it’s not too much of a stretch for people sing low, nod heads or hum along to Beauty School Dropout. For that matter, why not go Rocky Horror and bring some props, or a small stage for some Dirty Dancing, right? I could imagine people bringing whistles during the Danny Zuko Trying For Sports scenes, for example. Or someone doing crazy stuff with plastic wrap during Grease Lightning. Cotton Candy and/or pie eating during the Rydell Carnival scenes. People dressing up in 50’s costumes and such. Come to think of it, you sold me. I’ll buy my ticket and— wait a minute. It’s ONLY the sing along, with BIG Comic Book style lettering like the 60s Batman TV series. So much for the fun. I guess it would be a different movie going experience. In fact, that’s not too far off the mark for one of the screenings.But there’s something really wrong with the concept. At first, it would seem that the director of the film, Randal Kleiser had supervised the film, which also cleaned up the print to be a little “brighter color” – but in varied interviews such as the one in USA Today :

Yet some of the film’s most beloved elements are also its most controversial. The trailer is missing a few cigarettes (deleted digitally), as well as some innuendo. Those changes, Kleiser assures fans, were only for the general-audiences preview.

“I would have hated it if they had done that to the movie,” Kleiser says. “People remember this movie really well. There are ways to get around it without changing the words.”

I repeat:

“I would have hated it if they had done that to the movie,”

In other words, he had almost nothing to do with this new version

'With new pistons, plugs and shocks..and pop up words that look like blocks..


Consider the placement of the CGI sing along opticals, not just at the bottom of the screen, but everywhere. This action covers action on the screen and becomes visually intrusive. Part of the shot is covered up, some of the dances and characters obscured by a pop -up book. Sure, the original version will be around. That’s not the point. The point is nothing really significant is added to the film but something significant is taken away. While we are at it, put in the DVD or Blu-Ray in your players or XBox. If you have watched the film long enough with multiple viewings, do you need to see the words flashed out before you? If you did, couldn’t this idea presented be a new DVD/Blu feature? The studio can still milk your money.

I got chills, They're multiplyin'...

I Got CHILLS, they're multiplyin'..

Yet the Grease Karaoke is in full gear; the intent was to have a limited release for a week or so. But there are a growing number of ‘requests’ for the Sing A Long version to play in varied venues across the Unired States, and per screen average, the tickets are selling out. So I have to wonder. Am I out of touch? Are people who are Grease Die-Hards being able to forgive the intrusion because they have seen the film a zillion times and have the DVD at home? I’m sure part of the reason is the current culture which has, for better or worse, embraced the musical and/or dance related films with open arms. It would be kind of funny if the biggest sleeper of 2010 would up being a film from 1978. Or kind of sad.

By the way, I am NOT a Grease hater. This comment is mostly on a level of skepticism. It’s only disturbing to me since I can sing along to films like Little Shop Of Horrors and enjoy Chicago without words flashing in my face. I’m actually surprised Grease Sing A Long didn’t take the opening animated credits or the Frankie Avalon Beauty School dropout appearance in 3D.

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