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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Grease: Live! is a filmed version of a live stage play based on the popular 1970s film. Those who remember only the catchy songs and 1950s nostalgia may be surprised by the raciness of the production, which largely revolves around a romance in which the male partner constantly begs the female one for sex. There are songs, jokes, and references to sex, generally framed as boys "getting some" and girls "giving in," messages parents may not appreciate young girls and boys hearing. Some crass language often has a sexual edge, a la "eat me." Other assorted semi-curses include "crap." Playful violence and scuffles among male friends sometimes degenerate into the gang picking on others, including on "nerds," who are presented as out of it. A "fat" character eats constantly. There are a few references to underage drinking.
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What's the story?
Based on the popular 1970s Broadway production that became a blockbuster movie, GREASE: LIVE! tells the now-familiar story of star-crossed high school lovers in the 1950s. Danny Zuko (Aaron Tveit) is the leader of a greaser gang called the T-Birds; Sandy (Julianne Hough) is a new "nice" girl at Rydell High. The two have a history: Over the summer, they met and dated while on vacation. But at school, they come from two different worlds. Sandy would be more at home among cheerleaders such as peppy Patty Simcox (Elle McLemore), while Danny has built himself a comfy crowd that includes the T-Birds and members of affiliated girl gang the Pink Ladies. Can love stretch across these high school boundaries? It'll take a whole lot of singing and dancing to find out.
Is it any good?
With thrilling tracking and crane shots that wander backstage and then zoom out into street scenes, this production makes the most of well-known songs and drama (despite it antiquated messages). The first notice that this production isn't going to just be a flat "turn on the camera and perform a play" affair comes in the musical's opening, when a Steadicam follows rock star Jessie J as she sings the theme song -- all around the sets, through dressing rooms, past scenery and crew members, and then right on out to the street, where cast members frolic in the rain with umbrellas. It's a bracing opening, serving notice that this is one production that means to make the most of stage magic. Fans of the 1970s movie will also note that songs formerly found only on the movie's soundtrack pop up (the slumber-party rendition of "Freddy My Love" is a highlight), while other songs are gone (no more "Hopelessly Devoted"). Others are curiously edited; references to a car being a "pussy wagon" are gone, yet Rizzo (Vanessa Hudgens) still refers to a boy "flogging his log."
It all adds up to a show that's only slightly less racy than the movie and still carrying the controversial message that sex is a struggle between men and women that leave women shamed and damaged when they "give in." Still, for viewers old enough to understand and discard the sexist setup, the songs, dances, and characters are a lot of fun, making this a good bet for whole-family viewing for tweens and up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this musical's take on sex. Why are girls shamed for having sex but boys aren't? Why are the boys sex-obsessed and the girls aren't? How is sex viewed today?
Musicals are often nostalgic, looking back at an earlier era with affection. Why? What is it about nostalgia that lends itself to singing and dancing?
Have you seen the movie Grease? How does this play compare? What was added? What was left out? Which do you like better?
For kids who love musicals
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.