Grease: The Singalong Version!

Posted on July 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm

It’s the one that you want!

You probably already know the words, but it’s great to see them up on the big screen and it is really fun to sing along. For just one moment, we’re all students at Rydell High.

Tell me more!

Check here to see where it is playing and order tickets online as many shows are already sold out. If your city is not on the list, demand it!

NOTE: “Grease” was rated PG when it first came out, before the introduction of the PG-13 rating. It is now rated PG-13 for sexual content including references, teen smoking and drinking, and language. Parents should know that the themes include a possible teen pregnancy and the movie suggests that the way to get a boyfriend is to act like a tramp. This is all presented in a heightened, parody tone but it may be disturbing to younger audiences.

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Based on a play Classic Date movie High School Musical Romance

The Chocolate War

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:17 am

Plot: While Jerry Renault (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) a freshman at Trinity Prep boy’s school, is belittled by the football coach, two boys, Archie (Wally Ward) and Orbie (Dough Hutchison) sit high up in the stands watching them. Archie determines the “assignments” to be given to those boys selected for the school’s elite club, the Vigils, and Orbie is the club secretary. Jerry, whose mother has recently died, is selected for an assignment.

At home, Jerry’s father is remote, still overcome by grief. In school, teacher Brother Leon (John Glover) is tough and imperious. He brutally berates an outstanding student, then tells him, “You passed the toughest test of all — you were true to yourself.”

Brother Leon tells Archie the boys have to sell 20,000 boxes of chocolates for their annual fund-raiser, twice the number from previous years, and at twice the price, to help ensure that he will become headmaster. He won’t refer to the Vigils by name, but acknowledges Archie’s “influence.” Each boy must sell 50 boxes. All of the other boys agree, but Jerry refuses. Brother Leon says that selling is voluntary (“that is the glory of Trinity”), but tells the class that “the true sons of Trinity can pick up your chocolates in the gym. The rest — I pity you.”

It turns out that refusing to sell the chocolate was the “assignment” given to Jerry to prove his worth to the Vigils. But after the time period of the assignment expires, he continues to refuse to participate, despite harassment by the other boys. It gives him a feeling of strength and independence, not just from Brother Leon, but from the Vigils as well. Brother Leon says that sales are poor because the boys have become “infected” by Jerry. Brother Leon tells Archie that “if the sale goes down the drain, you and the Vigils go down the drain. We all go down the drain together.”

The Vigils decide to make the chocolate sale a success by making it popular. “We make it cool to sell the things.” The head of the Vigils tells Archie his position depends on his making his plan work.

At last, all of the chocolates are sold, except for Jerry’s quota. Archie arranges an assembly, with a raffle, the prizes the chance to select the punches in a boxing match between Jerry and a tough boy named Janza. But Archie has to take Janza’s place, and Jerry beats him. Jerry says, “I should have just sold the chocolates, played their game anyway.” Archie is now secretary, and Orbie has taken over assignments for the Vigils.

Discussion: Mature teenagers, especially fans of the popular book by Robert Cormier, will appreciate this dark story, a kind of “Dangerous Liaisons” for teenagers. Archie says that “people are two things, greedy and cruel,” and devises his plans to take advantage of those qualities.

Although the story is exaggerated for satiric effect, much of it will seem true to teenagers, who often feel a heightened sense of proportion. The movie shows us some of Jerry’s dreams or fantasies, which add to the surreal and claustrophobic feeling of the movie.

The movie provides a good basis for a discussion of the different ways that people get other people to do what they want, the exercise of power, and the ways that power is maintained — and lost. The interaction between Brother Leon and Archie is especially interesting, because of their uneasy interdependence. As powerful as both of them seem, they ultimately lose their power without much of a struggle.

Questions for Kids:

· What are the tools that Archie uses to maintain and exercise power? What tools does Brother Leon use?

· How can anyone or any group decide to make something “popular” and “cool” as Archie does with the chocolate sale?

· Why does Archie tell Janza to “use the queer pitch” on Jerry?

· Why does the screenplay have Archie holding an impaled butterfly when he talks to Janza on the phone? Why does Jerry tell the girl she was right?

· What is the significance of the Vigil’s marble test for the person who gives the assignments?

Connections: Read the book by Robert Cormier, and his other popular novel, “I Am the Cheese” (filmed in 1983, and remade in Canada as “Lapse of Memory,” (also known as “Memoire Tranquee”) in 1992. Compare this story to other books and movies about power struggles in a school context, including “Perfect Harmony,” “Lord of the Flies,” “School Ties,” and, for mature high school and college students, “The Lords of Discipline” (rated R), the surrealistic “If…” (1968, rated R) and one of its inspirations, the French film “Zero for Conduct” (1933).

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Based on a book Drama High School

She’s All That

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:16 am

Get ready. The success of movies like “Scream” has led to an upcoming avalanche of movies transplanting every possible movie plot into high school. This one takes “Pygmalion” with a few touches from “Pretty in Pink,” “Easter Parade,” “Cinderella,” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.” It falls smack dab in the middle of a genre I call “the makeover movie,” in which Our Heroine achieves success through good grooming and accessorizing. The result here is uneven, with some good performances and even some witty commentary on teen culture, but beware — the raunchy references make this inappropriate for younger teens, and even parents of mature high schoolers might want to consider it carefully.

Zach, the most popular and talented boy in high school (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) gets dumped by his beautiful but mean girlfriend the day after spring vacation of their senior year. She has met an MTV-celebrity (Matthew Lillard, hilarious as a self-obsessed gross-out champion based on MTV’s legendary Puck). Zach and his best friend bet that he can take any girl in school and get her elected prom queen before the end of school. The choice is drab Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook), who is coping with her mother’s death by taking care of her father and brother and by worrying about problems throughout the world instead of working through her own feelings of loss.

Laney is one of the least persuasive ugly ducklings in the history of movies. She shucks her glasses and her overalls, and my goodness! She’s beautiful! And my goodness! Zach finds himself actually caring for her. The plot is almost numbingly predictable, but one of the movie’s strengths it that it makes clear that Zach and Laney have both limited themselves by defining themselves before they have really had a chance to find out who they are.

The movie’s other strengths are Prinze, who has a wonderful screen presence and the magnificent Anna Paquin as his younger sister. Cook’s performance is flat by comparison. Jodi Lyn O’Keefe is a caricature as Zach’s former girlfriend.

Parental concerns include strong language, teen drinking, and casual sex (though not by the main characters). Zach’s friend brags that he is going to get Laney to have sex with him in a hotel room he has arranged for the occasion. For some reason, when Laney’s friend overhears this, instead of making the stunningly obvious move of telling Laney what the guy has in mind, he races around trying to get the message to someone else. Parents should know that the movie includes an ugly and graphic scene in which a school bully torments Laney’s hearing-impaired brother by reaching into his pants to grab some pubic hair and putting it on his pizza. Zach then forces the bully and his friend to eat it. Yuck.

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Comedy Family Issues High School Romance

Superstar

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:16 am

Even fans of the Mary Katherine Gallagher skits on Saturday Night Live will find this movie overlong at 82 minutes. It is one thing for a 30-something woman to play the part of a high school girl in a skit, but another to watch her try to act the part of a high school girl in a movie, even one as plotless as this one.

Mary Katherine (Molly Shannon) has one dream — she wants to be passionately kissed. While she waits, she practices on whatever is available, including a tree and a stop sign. Ultimately, she becomes a little more specific in her dream. She wants to be kissed by high school dream date Sky (Will Farrell, also from Saturday Night Live). And she decides that since he is going steady with pretty cheerleader Evian (Elaine Hendrix, repeating her meanie role from “The Parent Trap”) the only way to get his attention is to become a superstar. And she thinks she can do that by winning the Catholic Teen Magazine VD Awareness Talent Contest. Other attempts at humor include a boy with obsessive-compulsive disorder, a television falling on a dog, an Irish step-dancing tragedy, and repeated falling down and showing of the world’s whitest cotton underpants.

Younger teens will get a kick out of the naughty words and slapstick humor and may even relate to Mary Katherine’s struggle to become someone who is admired while staying true to herself. Any older folks who wander in by mistake may enjoy some references to old movies, especially Made-for-TV classics like “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.” And families might take this opportunity to talk about the careless cruelty and need to conform of many high school students, and Mary Katherine’s growing understanding that “you have to be your own rainbow” and that what matters is what she thinks about herself, not what Sky thinks about her. But parents should know that there are a number of raunchy references and a portrayal of Mary Katherine’s vision of Jesus that may be offensive to some viewers.

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Comedy High School

10 Things I Hate About You

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:16 am

Bianca, a beautiful high school sophomore, longs for a social life. But her father will not let her date until her older sister Kat does. Sound familiar? This is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” set in a Tacoma, Washington high school. The movie benefits from appealing performers and some genuinely fresh and funny dialogue, but parents should know that it contains a good bit of material that may be inappropriate for younger teens.

Commedian Larry Miller is terrific as the girls’ father, overprotective because their mother abandoned the family and because as an obstetrician he sees too many pregnant teenagers. But the teachers in the movie are more juvenile than the kids, including a guidance counselor more concerned with writing a very steamy novel than with the behavior and well-being of the students, an English teacher who insults the kids and is arbitrary with discipline, and a soccer coach who is all but comatose at the sight of a girl’s breasts, which she flashes to distract him from a boy’s escape from detention.

Parents should also know that there are a great many references to sex, even by the standards of teen comedies, and especially a number of references to male genitalia, including a boy who draws a picture on the face of another and a boy who pretends to expose himself in the lunchroom, using a bratwurst, as well as the usual teen references to who has “done it.” There is a wild party, with teen drinking and smoking, and brief references to drug use. The scene mentioned above, in which a girl bears her breasts to a teacher, is worth discussing.

On the positive side, the heroines demonstrate a very healthy attitude and strong self-esteem, defending their hearts and their bodies very capably. One admits to having had a bad sexual experience in 9th grade, then deciding she was not ready for sexual involvement, and learning to think for herself in the future. And when one of the characters decides to drink tequila at a party, she ends up dancing in an embarassing fashion and then throwing up in front of the boy she likes.

Kids who enjoy this movie should watch the video of The Taming of the Shrewstarring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The many parallels will make them appreciate this version even more.

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Based on a play High School
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