Grease Live full movie review - So is it worth watching?
I want to start off by saying I'm a huge fan of the movie, Grease, as I've been watching it since I was about 5. I've also been to a professional stage production but I'm going to base my review more off of the movie.
I don't think it's fair to constantly compare Grease: Live to the movie because it's not supposed to be the movie. It's going to be different. But it was still hard sometimes to shake off that "I can't believe they changed that" attitude.
The bad: The first half of the show I was really not feeling it. The casting decisions were not the greatest. They did a great job at adding diversity (as far as ethnicity goes). But it seemed like they were going more off of fame rather than talent. Julianne Hough makes a fantastic Sandy visually, and while she has a strong singing voice, she overdid it too much. She was so whiny in some places and then sometimes it sounded like a country singer was trying to escape her voice. It was so distracting and really turned me off. Even her talking voice was so childish and squeaky. I'm assuming to she got cast because of her dancing skills and her fame. I really wish these producers would realize that people care more about the quality of something than the names attached to it.
I thought Aaron Tveit did a pretty good job as Danny. He's no John Travolta but he held his own.
One of my biggest issues was Vanessa Hudgens. She may be able to hit high notes well but her voice is so unpleasant. She really ruined Rizzo for me. I'd never really listened to her sing before (but I knew she was in High School Musical) and when I heard her voice I was shocked at how bad it was. I really hate saying that but I am still dumbfounded over this.
Another mistake in my eyes was Keke Palmer. I was really excited to see her in this role until I did. She was so over the top and just odd. Marty is an arrogant character but this was just way too much. I think she blew it.
Carly Rae Jepson did okay at acting but her musical numbers fell flat. I ended up fast forwarding through her performance about halfway through.
The rest of the characters were decent, but I still feel like some of them could have been played by others better.
The dialogue was so rushed that if it hadn't been for my knowledge of the story I might not have known what was happening. A lot of the lines were spoken unnaturally. Much of it felt over rehearsed which sometimes happens in a live show, understandably. But I could never get into the show. You're constantly reminded that these are actors saying lines. Say this here, make this face, respond with this, etc. it never seemed to flow naturally and maybe that is just because it's live and there's no editing being done, but still, it took away from the magic of the show. You could never just get lost in it.
The good: I think the turn around moment for me was when Jordan Fisher performed "Those Magic Changes". Up until this point I was pretty underwhelmed with the songs, but as soon as this kid started singing I was pulled in. I'd never heard of him before and I was truly blown away by his voice. It's so smooth and rich and he could not have sung it better. It's a shame it kept getting interrupted with scenes of Danny in the gym because it was just so good. I haven't been able to stop listening to the full version on Spotify for two days now. I hope he has a long and steady career because his performance was the one that stood out from the rest.
The sets were done so well I couldn't believe it. I really have no complaints about it. They even had the carnival rides and everything. It made the show realistic and exciting. Serious props to the set designers!
The second half of the show was when the good stuff started happening. Other than a few ridiculous casting choices (Mario Lopez as Vince, Boys II Men singing "Beauty School Dropout" and Joe Jonas playing at the dance) the music was good, dancing was great, and it just made you feel good. The car race scene was done very well, as well as Hough singing "Goodbye to Sandra Dee". "You're the One That I Want" was a really fun and great performance. Hough looked just like Olivia Newton John. I ended the show with a big smile on my face because you could really see how happy everyone was. I felt so jealous (but still happy) because these people were having the time of their lives. It's been a few years since I've seen the movie, but Grease: Live made me realize just how much I love the movie and music. It made me feel really nostalgic.
Bottom line: If you have an open mind and are a Grease fan, give it a shot. But if you are too hung up on the movie you're going to ruin the show. My mom just kept comparing everyone to the original actors and skipped the middle part of the show. I'm 24 and felt like this was directed towards my age group. No remake will ever be as good as the original but Grease: Live did a very nice tribute to the movie and kept it fresh while still respecting the original. You could tell they really worked hard on this. I was glad they didn't try to change the story or setting. If they had chosen better actors and singers this would have been unbeatable.