Better Shape Up

A couple weeks ago I borrowed a bunch of random movies from the Roskilde Bibliotek and thought I’d write up a little review.  Bear in mind that I only watch movies after I’ve finished all my work, the house is cleaned up, the kiddo put down for the night, and I am slumped on the sofa in a state of useless exhaustion (in other words: I may or may not have been half asleep during the viewing of this film).  As this also happens to be the time when I usually write and pre-schedule blog posts, please take everything I say with a grain of salt.

The first movie in my selection was Grease.  

This is one of those movies Tim was always proud to say he never watched.  Unfortunately for him, since we got married I’ve been rapidly depleting that happy little list.  Most of them have been musicals, but after forcing him to sit through Newsies and Grease I think I may have broken his will to live.  He didn’t even muster the smallest objection when I informed him that our next feature presentation will be The Sound of Music (either that or he did object, I just couldn’t hear him because I was too busy singing all the songs in his ear.  Loudly, in rapid succession.  Including the parts of the yodeling girl in the pale pink coat – lay-ee-odel-lay-ee-odel-lay-hee-hoo).  

(Side rant: WHO has never seen The Sound of Music?!  I mean really!  It’s a cultural icon.  How else did “these are a few of my favorite things” get to be the most overused lyric in the history of mankind?)

But back to Grease.  It was better than I thought it would be, based on the none-too-promising film cover and one early Christmas morning in which someone (I won’t say who) performed the entire soundtrack into a hairbrush microphone (a somewhat hilarious wake-up call, I might add).  It was definitely one of those films I’d chalk up to a tremendous cultural experience, although which cultural experience I’m supposed to have been viewing is still a mystery to me.  To clarify: the movie may be set in the summer of ’58, but it is an overpoweringly 70’s kind of film.  

To my surprise, I knew all the songs despite having never seen the movie before.  Talk about a cultural icon.   I’ve had “Better Shape Up” stuck in my head ever since, although the version I hear (compliments of those little voices in my head, you know) is Angus and Julia Stone, which is infinitely better.

Some things I don’t understand that you could maybe clear up for me:

The Premise.  I practically grew up on musicals and was never once bothered by the many characters bursting into song and dance at every possible opportunity.  Alas, I think Grease may have destroyed the illusion for me, whatever that illusion may have been.  Am I supposed to assume that the characters are actually having a song and dance conversation, in real life, or that this is merely the director’s artistic interpretation of teenage discussions (and if so, what’s wrong with his kids)?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that he couldn’t very well just have Sandy walk up to Danny and say, “Hey birdbrain, you better shape up or else,” and have Danny reply with, “Groovy baby, let’s boogie woogie and wail,” but my mind just can’t make that leap.  I mean, should I just accept that this behavior is perfectly normal, or choose to believe no one else in the cast can actually hear or see them?   Oh, I know Sandy’s belting her heart out into the middle of the night about how she’s “hopelessly devoted” to Danny, but it’s simply too much of a stretch for me to believe she didn’t wake the entire neighborhood and horribly embarrass herself (and me, for that matter), unless she’s really just thinking about how hopeless she is.

Secondly, who acts like this?  I’m not even talking about the hair (oh the crazy hair), or the costumes (heh heh heh), but the movements!  The hip-shaking, head-popping, shuffling and sliding and popping (yes, they popped!)?  So my question is, did the kids at this time really move like this and think it cool?  Or did they do it because they wanted to look ridiculous?  Or is the movie a satire?  Of course, the director is making fun of the 1950’s (and/or ‘70’s)!  Or is he?  I don’t get it.  Who in their right mind has ever strutted around like John Travolta in the role of Danny, other than those unfortunate adult victims of fashion who (for some reason I will never understand) buy their pants in the kid’s department, and yet not feel ridiculous?  Even more, think that they’re the coolest?  Downtown Coolsville, the population: the cast of Grease (and the director’s offspring, apparently).

Last but not least, I’m a bit confused about their respective ages.  Let’s face it, these actors simply cannot pass as high school students.  Why wasn’t this film set in college?  Or grad school, for that matter?

… And yet, despite it all, I’d probably watch this movie again.

Onto the next film.  Marley & Me.  I hate it when I watch movies and then can’t for the life of me decide if I liked them or not.

It has its promising aspects.  Cute married couple living in sunny Florida raising a family, what’s not to love?  But, as much as I adore the fact that this movie actually begins with the wedding (rather than ending with it, like so many Hollywood films), they really went out of their way to hit the nail on the head about the Realities of Married Life, didn’t they?  The movie begins so light-heartedly (with me screaming about how I NEED TO LIVE ON A BEACH AND WEAR MY SUMMER CLOTHES, TOO!), and then directly spirals into an all-too-realistic middle-class fiasco with the rapid succession of three unexpected children, a fixer-upper home and (probable) debt, constant arguments, and no sleep (while I’m sinking lower and lower onto the couch, feeling incredibly stressed out and exhausted for them).  

And then, to make matters infinitely worse, there’s this stupid Labrador peeing on all the furniture.  (I refuse to watch this movie for the dog.  I hate animal films.  You know, those movies in which some overrated creature, usually a horse, must heroically overcome the odds of [insert plot here] after which it must needlessly and tragically die.  Come to think of it, this may be why I can’t decide if I like this movie or not.)  At this point in the film, I just want to start screaming, “WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS TO THEMSELVES?  WHY? WHY? WHY?”  Needless to say, I blame Jennifer Aniston for this mid-week breakdown.  She’s the whole reason I checked the stupid movie out anyway.

… And then, after an hour or so of nothing happening, the dog finally dies and the movie ends, leaving me tragically bawling into a pillow – something that I find rather confusing considering I was the one rooting for them to shoot the stupid animal in the first place.

So, that was pretty much my take on it.

The next film was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a much better book than movie, but what else is new).  I also checked this out for the lead female role, because you can never have too much Zooey Deschanel.  But I’m not going to give a review of this film because it was really late and I fell asleep sometime after the president lost his extra head, but before it was discovered that the mice were the master criminal minds behind everything.  Although I must add that I just simply adore the idea of a chronically depressed robot.  You can’t beat that.  Must finish watching.

By the way, what is the question that elicits an answer of 42?  Is it, by any chance, 7 x 6?

And now, onto my final film: On Golden Pond.  (You’re probably wondering what possessed me to check out four such incredibly different types of movies.  Well, let me tell you, it was Friday evening and the movies still available were slim pickings).  

I love On Golden Pond.  I have watched this movie something akin to one hundred times.  The first time I watched it for Jane Fonda (noticing a trend with me?) because I love Jane Fonda.  After that I watched it for the hilarious interaction between Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda’s characters (also I love it that Henry and Jane are playing the parts of father and daughter).  True, the movie is a bit slow-paced and the soundtrack a bit too dramatic, but the script!  The script is just perfect.  

For example:

Norman: That’s her name.  Ethel Thayer.  It sounds like I'm lisping, doesn't it?  Almost kept her from marrying me.  Wanted me to change my last name to hers.
Billy Ray: What was it?
Norman: I don’t remember.

Billy Ray: A canoe! Just like the Indians used.
Norman: Actually, the Indians used a different grade of aluminum.

Chelsea: It just seems like we’ve been mad at each other for so long.
Norman: I didn’t think we were mad.  I just thought we didn’t like each other.

Ethel (to Norman): Don’t be such an old poop!

One of my favorite scenes of the entire movie occurs in the beginning, when Norman and Ethel return to their summer cabin and Norman picks up a frame on an end table and says, “Who’s that?  Ethel?  Who the hell is in this picture?”  It cracks me up every time.

I hope Tim and I end up being just like Norman and Ethel when we’re ancients.  Although there’s a decent chance I’ll be more like Norman, which makes him Ethel.  ;)

Okay, I’m out.  Hope I didn’t turn you off anything you want to see and/or already love.  Also, go watch On Golden Pond if you haven’t yet.  Happy Thursday!

P.S. You did know, before beginning this post, that I am a hopeless critic at heart, didn’t you?


  1. I am definitely going to rent On Golden Pond, I have never seen it. I can't explain Grease, but I love it. The one thing I don't understand-and is prevelent in movies and tv shows is; why, why, WHY do people order food and then leave without eating it?? That drives me nuts!! I think Danny and Sandy leave the soda shop without eating their food or drinking their delicious shakes and the Gilmore Girls do that at Luke's all the time!!!! (I do realize I sound like a freak). Marley and Me made me cry like a baby and my neices cried and asked why they were made to watch such a sad movie. I saw it for Jennifer Aniston too.

  2. I just realized nieces was spelled wrong...oops :-P

  3. Dammit, now you got Grease songs in my head. I was always confused about the message in Grease--ladies, if your man is kind of a douchenozzle, just change yourself into that very thing you don't want but he wants and all will be well.

  4. Never could get the hang of Grease (though I LAAAVE a good 70's set, especially the cars <3) and it always bugged me that, as cute as it is for them to both try to be what the other person "wanted", who else noticed they both decided to go with the leather trash bag approach? It's not about being willing to change, kids, it's about being willing to dress like a gangsta from the muscle car era. :P

    Marley and Me, I confess, I very nearly like, and I think it's exactly for the reason you said-- it starts with a wedding. Uncomfortably gritty sometimes (I resent the implication that all weddings lead to two formerly in-love kids screaming at each other...) and yes, movies like this give dog lovers a bad name (liking dogs and loving dog movies is so-ho-ho different... :P ) but mostly, a decent movie that has many scenes on a beach. lol

    Never seen On Golden Pond the movie, but the community theater did the play one year. As for Hitchhiker, missing the intelligent wit of the books, but I gotta love Alan Rickman's Marvin (<3!) and Martin Freeman is always a fantastic.

    Great post! :D

  5. Have seen GREASE a million time a it's a classic with me, my sisters and our mum.

    Marley and Me is a true story. It was first a book and the book is a lot more detailed than the movie. The book is brilliant and the movie was good but there was a lot left out and I hate it when Hollywood does that. If you'd like to read the book I'm more than happy to send it to you as I own a copy of it. Even reading the book I was blubbering at the end when the dog dies and it's so much harder to read while crying than watch while crying hehe. And yes I don't understand why we animal lovers do it to ourselves, I don't know what I'll do when my girl goes or my old man cat who's 13 this year. He was my man for so many years before I got married again.

    I've never seen all of On Golden Pond but might get it out now you've reminded me of it.

    And I don't know how to tell you this...But I've never seen all of The Sound Of Music only the end. (and now I'm ducking)lol......it never interested me but I know most of the songs from it, go figure.

    Hitch Hikers Guide drove me crazy but my kids loved it.


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