Grease is an all-time classic musical that will forever be sung and tapped out throughout history. It is the perfect mix of teen love, angst and friendship tossed in with a stellar setlist of songs. Therefore, the producers of 2016 decided, "Hey, lets do a live version of this and televise it for the world."
As a person with much experience watching poorly produced remakes and sequels (i.e. Grease 2), I was skeptical, and I believe rightfully so. The original cast of Grease had amazing chemistry, and the choreography paired with the songs was perfectly done. Therefore, how could this possibly bring the legacy of Grease any justice?
My first issues was the casting of this live version, aside from a few members. The shining star of this production was by far Vanessa Hudgens, who portrayed our favorite bitch Rizzo perfectly. Before the live show, Hudgens' father passed away, but she still carried on and gave a perfect performance. She embodied Rizzo's sass to a T in "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee". What truly amazed me was her solo "There are Worst Things I Could Do." I think of Vanessa as little Gabriella Montez from High School Musical, but there she was, belting out her heart in the most beautiful way possible.
Julianne Hough was a good call for Sandy. She impressed me with her vocals as well and her dancing background certainly dominated the rest of the cast. Aaron Tveit as Danny was not the best choice. He was not as convincing as John Travolta in the "struggling cool guy" role, and he is far better in serious roles, such as Enjolras in the 2012 Les Miserables. Carly Rae Jepsen was not a good choice for Frenchy at all. Yes, she had a hit song in 2012, but her vocals sounded nasally in the worst way, which destroyed the role of Frenchy.
The rest of the cast was mediocre at best, for example one guy's acting career is solely based out of Nickelodeon. Therefore, the scenes were far too over-exaggerated, and made it almost unwatchable. Some movies over-exaggerate to be purely satirical, and that is perfectly okay. Plays also over-exaggerate because they need to emphasize the emotions to a large audience. Grease Live is not a satire, and the majority of the viewers were televised.
Aside from casting, I have one major issue with Grease Live. I think it was awesome that they made changes in casting to make it diverse. For example, Keke Palmer was Marty. Also, in the original dance scene in Grease, they specified couples had to be boy-girl. In Grease Live, that was not mentioned whatsoever.
However, going back to the issues, I do not like how the reboot of Grease changed the plot to make everyone happy, or make the T-Birds seem like sensitive boys. No. The T-Birds are rough and tough, teenage motorheads. Danny is an exception in the original because he is in love with Sandy, but wants to maintain his "cool image", which is the entire plot of Grease.
The single scene that made this entire reboot a disaster was the race at Thunder Road. First, they had Rizzo and Sandy show up and talk to the T-Birds, which never happened. This leads to my next problem: they made Kenickie look like a grade-A pussy. Kenickie was originally scripted as a bad ass leader of a knuckle head group of guys. Not once did Kenickie want to back out of Thunder Road. He only didn't drive because his dumb friends were getting out of the car and whacked his head off the metal door. Grease Live confessed his love for Rizzo and no longer wanted to drive, so Kenickie got bailed out by Danny on an "accidental" door opening that hit Kenickie in the head. And then Danny winked at him to pretend to be hurt so he couldn't drive. NOT ONCE IN THE ORIGINAL GREASE WAS THAT EVEN INSINUATED! Kenickie's rival was Crater Face, and he would do anything to beat him in Thunder Road. He wouldn't back out because he claimed he was in love. His drama with Crater Face runs deeper than his "love" for Rizzo.
My biggest issue of all with this reboot was the fact that at the end of the race, Danny calls over an individual to thank. Who? Eugene. Fucking Eugene. And what does he do? Give him a T-Bird jacket and proclaims he's a T-Bird. Excuse me while I call the Danny and crew from 1978, because they will beat this Danny's ass, and then probably Eugene's just because he was there.
I get it, the producers wanted to redeem the bullying ways of the T-Birds, and that's well intentioned. Bullying in no way is excusable and should not be tolerated (my PSA for the article). However, thats what made the original T-Birds them. They were badass guys, and more importantly, bullies. Whenever the 1978 T-Birds did something sweet and sympathetic, it was noticed and made more of an impact because they NEVER did that stuff. Once Eugene became a T-Bird in this reboot, everything else they did seemed stupid. They looked like pussies and any "badass" factor was taken away. Involving Eugene with the making of Grease Lightning was a huge mistake, but then making him a T-Bird completely changed the outlook people had on the T-Birds and made a majority of people angry that the producers would change a major aspect of the T-Bird's personality.
In movies, redemption is great about 99% of the time. However, with a movie that was originally centered and geared around a band of bullies, change is not necessarily the best.