Happy 40th anniversary to one of the greatest (and most iconic) movie-musicals of all time! Following summer sweethearts Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson, Grease tells the story of how the two find their way back to one another when they end up at the same high school and have to face how different they are in real life. Grease is iconic for a myriad of reasons; Between the Pink Ladies, the T-Birds, the fabulous and randomly disco-tinged music (thanks 1978!), there’s so much Grease content that stands out in our pop culture consciousness. What better way to honor this iconic film’s 40th anniversary than to rewatch it this weekend? If you do, here are nine things you should keep in mind as you revisit:
- The Pink Ladies are the heroes of the movie, and Rizzo is a queen.
The T-Birds may rock leather jackets and help create mischief and mayhem at Rydell High, but they’re really just nerd-bombers who get nervous around girls and authority figures. If you’re looking for proof, please watch the (amazing) “Greased Lightning” scene again and watch them dance with each other in excitement over a theoretical car. It’s the Pink Ladies who really deserve the badass reputation. They’re the ones challenging gender roles with their views on fashion, relationships, and rebelliousness–especially Rizzo, who sings an entire song calling out her classmates for their slut-shaming, hooks up with Kenickie on her own terms, and refuses to be impressed by the lackluster behavior of men. Rizzo is a hero, albeit one who needed to place more importance on contraception.
- This movie gives us the best karaoke duet a person could ask for: “Summer Nights.”
Though I don’t envy whoever gets Danny’s ending note, tbh.
- Danny Zuko is the worst.
Danny Zuko lies about his nature of his relationship with Sandy in “Summer Nights,” gets weird about his ~feelings~ and blows her off in front of the T-Birds, becomes interested in her again once she’s dating someone else, and basically assaults her at the drive-in. Danny, for lack of a better term, is a fuckboy and Sandy deserves better. On the other hand, Kenickie is hotter, has a good work ethic, and is oddly more reliable than Danny, if misguided. See also: Putzie.
- Heaven looks like Frankie Avalon and artfully glittered costumes.
What a way to tell someone to stay in school!
- Cha Cha DiGregorio is not a villain.
After Kenickie and Cha Cha get kicked off the dancefloor at Rydell High’s televised dance, she ends up dancing with Danny, earning some ire among characters and fans alike. All I have to say is: get it, girl. Cha Cha just came to win the dance contest, regardless of who her partner was. Can’t blame her for getting it done. If you’re going to hold anything against her, let it be the line, “How you doin’, Zuko baby?” No one needed to hear that.
- The students of Rydell High are Extra with a capital E.
You only need to see their frantic, acrobatic, and at times dangerous performance of “Hand Jive” at the dance competition to see that it’s true. Sandy’s sleepover interruption “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and Danny’s drive-in rendition of “Sandy” are further proof that everyone could chill just a bit.
- During the car race, Marty yells “YOUR MOTHAH!” like she’s your great aunt who smoked two packs a day for most of her life.
This not-so-delicate moment from the gentlest, most feminine of the Pink Ladies is everything and you can’t miss it.
- Sandy gets the infamous end-of-movie makeover–but so does Danny.
Like many old favorites, Grease is problematic. It’s ultra-white, takes a too-casual approach toward attempted sexual assault, and is riddled with misogynistic comments. People point fingers at Sandy’s end-of-movie makeover as the biggest issue, but I disagree. The makeover in question is just as much to bond with the Pink Ladies and T-Birds as a whole as it is to date Danny. Think about it–Danny spends the better part of the movie involved in sports so he can get that letter sweater and be the type of guy that Sandy would date, while Sandy spent one afternoon with Frenchie and Marty, getting a perm and learning how to smoke. Come. At. Me.
- On a related note, Grease is better than Grease 2, regardless of what you’ve seen on the internet recently.
Listen, I’m not saying you can’t enjoy Grease 2. it’s quality crap, the songs are undeniably catchy (if annoying), and features Michelle Pfeiffer in the iconic role of Stephanie Zanoni, Rizzo’s spiritual successor and bad bitch in her own right. While one could argue that Stephanie’s refusal to cave to the men around her is a more feminist take than Sandy’s makeover, Grease 2 makes the Grease world far more misogynistic than it was already. For instance, in Grease 2 the T-Birds practically own the Pink Ladies and determine their membership (T-Bird leader Johnny makes the argument that Stephanie can’t be a Pink Lady if she’s no longer dating him) and the T-Birds go to great lengths in order to trick Sharon into sleeping with DiMucci.
Happy watching! And remember: be the Rizzo you wish to see in the world.