It's time for more greasy kid stuff. There's a film of it ready to settle in for the summer, the backers expecting to capitalize on the oily charm of the original.
"Grease 2" is here. Maxwell Caulfield should be the Crisco Kid in this go-round, but alas, this young Brit's film debut has all the sensual charisma of a kipper, and his singing range is on a par with Wayne Newton's. This won't do, because "Grease 2" is a musical, a kind of rebel without a cause but with a song in its heart.
While Caulfield pouts and strikes poses, imagining he is James Dean reincarnate, second-lead Adrian Zmed connects with the crowd. Zmed, a George Chakiris type with a limber body and menacing sexuality, is clearly the leader of the pack. He sings and dances the role of Johnny Nogerilli, head of the T-Birds, a second-rate gang of bikers left over from "Grease I."
Michelle Pfeiffer, who looks more at home hugging a Harley than did Olivia Newton- John, stars as a biker groupie. She sort of straddles a ladder to sing about the man of her dreams, a hard rider with at least 1200 ccs between his legs and a way with a wheelie. Despite her behavior, it turns out Pfeiffer is a liberated woman, one of the first. She's tired of "being someone's chick," and has a good job as a grease monkey; she's a full 10 years ahead of her time.
There are other things beside women's liberation that could only have time-traveled into this plot: pot, the Pill and skateboards, not to mention a couple of the costumes. Actually the outfits are fun: They're low-cut, skint-tight and energetic. Particularly striking are the gold spandex bowling pants worn by one Lorna Luft, who does a spicy job as a Marilyn Monroe clone.
The choreography's upbeat and spritely and the sets are lavish to the point of the ridiculous, as in the gold-colored motorcycle heaven where Pfeiffer and a biker angel, clad in silver-lam,e leathers, lament missed curves and lost chances.
All in all, "Grease 2" is nowhere near as awful as "1" in this cinematic recycling.
GREASE Opens Friday at 11 area theaters.