Going Back to School Again with GREASE 2

The cult sequel finally gets its own Blu-ray release.

Films like Poltergeist, Tron, and E.T. the Extraterrestrial are all celebrating milestones this year after four decades of delighting generations of moviegoers. Celebrations, including vintage screenings, home video re-releases, and critical revisitings have been popping up for all of the aforementioned titles and others.

One title that won’t be on everyone’s list but whose birthday is nonetheless worth honoring is Grease 2’s. Yes, the sequel that many people either tossed to the side or didn’t even know existed has now made it to 40. Even if it never had a prayer of reaching the heights of the 1978 original, the sequel still proved to be a cult classic musical that a select few immediately latched onto.

Does this look familiar?

Set two years after the events of the first movie, Grease 2 turns things around by introducing British-born Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield), the new student at Rydell High. Michael finds he has a hard time fitting in, especially after he’s branded a “nerd” by the current crop of T-Birds (Adrain Zmed, Christopher McDonald, Peter Frechette, and Leif Green). But Michael doesn’t give them much notice since he has instantly fallen for the beautiful and feisty Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer). Stephanie, however, doesn’t have time for Michael as she is busy keeping her fellow Pink Ladies (Lorna Luft, Maureen Teefy, and Alison Price) in line, while also dreaming of her ideal man, who may or may not be out there.

Most are familiar with the fate of Grease 2—how it was rushed into production and how none of the principal stars from the first movie wanted to come back. A dead-on-arrival release in theaters and a financial loss that killed producer Allan Carr’s plans for a Grease franchise swiftly followed. What did survive the fallout, however, was the movie’s soundtrack, a collection of tunes that blend the story’s 1960s setting with the sounds of the early ‘80s.

In honor of Grease 2’s 40th, here’s a revisit through each of the movie’s songs:

Back to School Again

The idea that Grease 2 would actually have a decent shot of being a hit in its own right was not out of the question, given the movie’s opening number. “Back to School Again” is the kind of rousing opener audiences flock to movie musicals for. As performed by The Four Tops, the number is Grease 2’s largest, with countless extras and impressive choreography from director Patricia Birch, who served as choreographer for both the first film and the sequel. The energy is off the charts and the humor is tongue-in-cheek. Best of all, “Back to School Again” gives us the perfect introduction to our main cast, each of whom establishes their characters in the course of the nearly five-minute song.

Cool Rider

If there’s one song that managed to escape the reputation Grease 2 was saddled with for years and actually have a minor life of its own, it’s “Cool Rider.” Pfeiffer’s solo number comes early on when a smitten Michael asks Stephanie out. Once it becomes clear that he just doesn’t get the hint about why she won’t say yes, Stephanie launches into a rock-tinged declaration of who her ideal man will be and what she wants from him. It’s here that Stephanie emerges as a young woman ahead of her time, one who won’t settle for a T-Bird or anyone else she feels isn’t worthy of her time and love simply because it’s expected of her. It doesn’t matter how long it takes: Stephanie knows what she wants and she refuses to accept anything less.

Score Tonight

I’m sure the innuendo of a bunch of teenagers singing a song called “Score Tonight” at a bowling alley was already seen as more cute than daring in 1982, let alone in 2022. But that still doesn’t take away from the vibrant energy the number offers. Johnny (Zmed) leads this fun pop song that pays tribute to the exuberance of being young. If the song goes on a bit too long, it makes up for it with some great choreography and more tongue-in-cheek humor. We hear Paulette (Luft) sing for the first time, and the use of the bowling alley set is taken full advantage of in one of Grease 2’s most energetic numbers.

Girl for All Seasons

The sugary sweetness level is through the roof with this song where all of the Pink Ladies and their backup singers sing a dreamy ode to the seasons, with each one of them taking on a different time of the year. “Girl for All Seasons” is perhaps the one song that resembles the time period in which the movie is set in most, with its dreamy melody and lyrics like, “I’ll be yours in springtime when the flowers are in bloom. We’ll wander through the meadows in all their sweet perfume.” It all may seem a bit of a throwaway, but the song does capture that feeling of high school love, when teenagers are on cloud nine and believe they’ll never come down.

Do It for Our Country

Out of all the songs to come from Grease 2, “Do it for Our Country” takes home the prize for inviting the most simultaneous eyerolls and laughter from the audience (although biology class song “Reproduction” certainly comes in a close second). The song, which takes place in a bomb shelter, features Louis (Frechette) trying to convince Sharon (Teefy) that nuclear war is about to break out and that this night is the perfect time for them to lose their virginities to each other. An ode to idiocy (his) and innocence (hers), there’s a satirical tone to the slightly uptempo ballad that almost borders on parody with references to the Grand Canyon and “Disneyland!”

Who’s That Guy?

As someone who was bullied in high school (and discovered Grease 2 during freshman year), “Who’s That Guy” was an anthem. The introduction of Michael, who shows up in disguise as the “Cool Rider” outside the bowl-a-rama to wow all the onlookers (including an instantly lovesick Stephanie), is greeted with a cool, slick pop-rock track that’s totally in keeping with the sounds of the early ‘80s and also moves the story along. For someone like yours truly, seeing all the cool kids in high school be awed and impressed by the guy they all picked on or ignored is the epitome of living vicariously through a movie musical number.


Out of all the songs in Grease 2, “Prowlin’” took me the longest to get used to (apart from the lackluster hula track). I’m not sure why, since the tune is a real bopper of a track that has elements of Motown and even some light rock. There’s no real ideology here, nor does the number move the story along at all. Theme-wise, it’s all about the immaturity and absurdity of high school boys who think they’ve got the opposite sex completely pegged. Much in the way “Do it For Our Country” shows the naïvete and stupidity of teenagers, “Prowlin’” looks at a group of boys who think they’re men and gives them a rousing song to perform while the movie wastes no time laughing at them.


It doesn’t have the same kind of following as “Cool Rider,” but “Reproduction” has had a bit of a life of its own with the odd karaoke tribute here and there. The song features our young cast in a biology class presided over by Tab Hunter’s Mr. Stuart. When the students don’t get what he’s trying to explain, Mr. Suart launches into an upbeat pop song with a title that doubles as its subject matter as the class starts up with one innuendo after the other. A lot of double standards are put under a microscope during the course of this song (pun intended), making “Reproduction” a bit risque. All in all, the song shows that Grease 2 has a sense of humor about itself and is not content to be a totally sanitized piece of fluff.


Michael’s solo number, in which he details the struggles of being both the mysterious “Cool Rider” Stephanie has fallen for and the guy she barely notices, does take a while to get into. But Caulfield’s charisma and the haunting early ‘80s arrangement eventually makes it work. Much in the way the song “Cool Rider” lets Stephanie show what she was about, “Charades” actually takes the time to explore Michael’s character. The song doesn’t generate success, and everyone watching (for the first time or not) knows that his problem will eventually be resolved. But while the song is playing, Michael’s predicament is a real one, and seeing the character wrestle with it makes him all the more endearing to us.

(Love Will) Turn Back the Hands of Time

Even though there have been moments of cheese up until now, the soundtrack to Grease 2 never goes full cheese until this ballad that takes place smack dab in a fantasy world. After Michael (as the Cool Rider) rides his bike off a cliff, Stephanie presumes he has died, leading her to kick off this dreamy number where she mourns the loss of the boy taken from her too soon. Suddenly, she finds herself in a fantasy setting, with the Cool Rider standing atop a pile of crashed motorcycles. The two soon enter into a duet during which they proclaim that their love will never die. It’s cheesy and sentimental as all get out, but it’s also a great song that’s made even better by the movie’s two incredibly photogenic leads.

Rock-A-Hula-Luau (Summer is Coming)

There’s very little reason for this number to exist other than to ensure that not too much non-song time passes between “(Love Will) Turn Back the Hands of Time” and “We’ll Be Together” (both of which were ballads). As a result, audiences have to endure this uptempo ode to the start of summer that definitely isn’t as bombastic as it thinks it is. There’s nothing especially wrong with the song, except that it’s just not all that special. The main actors are there but none of them sing, and even though the colorful set and the many dancing extras try to give off a similar vibe to the movie’s opening number, it just doesn’t click. “Rock-A-Hula-Luau (Summer is Coming)” is easily the worst track in an otherwise amazing collection of songs, saved only by the fact that it’s thankfully short.

We’ll Be Together

It was a pretty bold move to end a musical with a ballad since everyone loves an upbeat number to jump up and down to as final goodbye before the credits roll, much like the first Grease famously had. But “We’ll Be Together” is a winning, serene ballad that doesn’t only give most of the principal cast members a chance to sing, but also carries with it a maturity, the kind that typically comes with the end of high school. It’s also one of those songs whose simple lyrics give way to actual emotion as a result of all the time we’ve spent with the characters. “You were the one, the one in my dreams. But I never knew it,” sings Stephanie. “I wanted to tell you time and again, but I couldn’t do it,” croons Michael. It completely hits the kind of goals every movie musical goes for.

The reason I chose to write about the soundtrack is because the movie itself has some problems that it never works out (most notably the abrupt departure of Frenchie, who returns from the first film), but its popularity continues to grow and endure. Even Pfeiffer herself has been seen commenting on it via social media and on talk shows, exhibiting a fondness for the film which should have been a calling card, but nearly ended up torpedoing her young career. With her seal of approval, it seems more than okay and even fashionable to embrace Grease 2. Recent vintage screenings not only sell out, but they also have a Rocky Horror audience level of fun, showing that one of the most maligned sequels of all time has enjoyed a lifespan no one could have anticipated back in 1982. What was once a movie to secretly like has become one of cooler cult classics around. Like its tagline says, “The music and the feeling go on forever.”

Grease 2 is now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Pictures.

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