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Monday, February 1, 2016

FROM GRANDPA TO GREASE

I usually go to films earning 4 star ratings or with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 90 and above.  This weekend I went to two below those scores, one, very much so.  These were not artistic masterpieces, but served well as escapist experiences.

These days when I walk into a restaurant or theater I'm the oldest person in the room.  When I went to see Dirty Grandpa, the lights were still mostly on, and I was the youngest.

Rarely have I seen RT reviewers' numbers as low as 7%, however, 52% of  audiences liked it.  Box Office Mojo showed that DG was #4 last week and #7 this weekend.  Sure, the film was scurrilous, over the top filthy with creative penis depictions, and everything being so so predictable.  I could have improved the script by totally re-doing the first 15 minutes to better describe how terrible the father/grandpa was...but for almost a good reason.

DG should not be confused with Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa, which in many ways was similar, featuring grandpa and grandchild.  However, BG at least got 60%/61% ratings from Rotten Tomatoes.  That one had Johnny Knoxville as the grandpa.  DB showcased Robert De Niro as grandpa and Zac Efron as the grandson.  Kind of reminded me of the 1960 Where the Boys Are (RT 83%/71%), in those Florida Spring Breaks of my time.  However, no Connie Francis singing Where the Boys Are in DG.  I won't give much away but indicate that De Niro totally screws up Efron's establishment life as an attorney, maybe for the better. For the full details, click on DG.  Oh, I kind of enjoyed the film.

Almost on the opposite end of the spectrum was The Finest Hours (60%/73%), a true story of a ship rescue from 1952 featuring the U.S. Coast Guard.  I feared this one would be too much like the 2000 The Perfect Storm (RT: 47%/64%) with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, also from a true story--and it was.  The hero of TFH was Chris Pine as a Boatswain's Mate First Class, who skippers a motorized life boat to rescue half an oil tanker.  The other half broke off and sank.  You've seen him as Captain Kirk in Star Trek and as Jack Ryan.  Casey Affleck (brother of Ben, friend of Matt Damon and wife of Joaquin Phoenix's sister) was equally heroic as an understated leader.  I also found this film to be quite okay for my purpose.

For the record, Kung Fu Panda 3 (RT:  80%/89%) wiped out the competition with box office revenues this weekend of $41 million.  The Revenant (RT:  83%/86%) came in at #2, Star Wars 7 (RT:  93%/90%) #3 and The Finest Hours #4.  SW7 is now up to $2.2 billion and could overtake #1 Avatar (RT:  83%/82%), which is at $2.8 billion.  I won't go to KFP3 because I hate animated movies.  Plus, the last time I went to one I was the only adult without a child.

Grease was shown last night on television, and I recorded it, for I just can't stand those commercials.  Julianne Hough, who twice won Dancing with the Stars (her brother Derek was a six-time winner) was the lead as Sandy...and also, I might add, acted as the goody establishment fiance' in Dirty Grandpa.  Also in the TV production were Carly Rae Jepsen as Frenchy and Boyz II Men as the Teen Angels.

The original with John Travolta as Danny and Olivia Newton-John as Sandy in 1978 (RT:  78%/88%), including Frankie Avalon and Sha-Na-Na, portrayed a Chicago region high school in 1959.  Travolta was huge during that period, for the R-rated Saturday Night Fever (RT:  88%/71%) was released in 1977 and G-version played in 1979.  How many of you remember Grease 2 (RT:  32%/53%)?  Yes, two years later (1961) at the same high school, released in 1982, no Danny and Sandy, but with Michelle Pfeiffer as a 23-year old leader of the Pink Ladies with Lorna Luft, Tab Hunter and Connie Stevens, plus reprising roles, Didi Conn (who returned in TV LIVE), Eve Arden and Sid Caesar.  Unfortunately, we all grow up, and here are Olivia Newton-John (66, and currently entertaining at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas) and Didi Conn (64) today:


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