This unprepossessing sequel to the massive John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John hit is notable for a great title song by the Four Tops (Back To School Again) and a then little-known Michelle Pfeiffer in a clinging short skirt.
Set in 1961, this is the story of Rydell High School a few years on from those halcyon days of drainpipe trousers and stiff petticoats. It’s basically a gender reversal of what went on in the first film, with soft-spoken British exchange student Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield) taking an immediate liking to vampy Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer) who, as a member of the Pink Ladies, can date only the members of the leather-jacketed T-Birds gang.
So, in the name of love, Michael decides to become a punk, investing in a motorcycle and leather pants. His plan works and he becomes a motorcycle fantasy figure, often appearing on the scene on his bike just in time to rescue Rydell students from the clutches of a rival motorcycle gang.
Meanwhile, back at Rydell, Stephanie is as randy as ever, wearing her tight, ravish-me jeans and crooning about her Cool Rider to Michael, who’s hiding behind his Clark Kent glasses and trying to analyse Hamlet.
He attempts to tell her about her extracurricular activities as the notorious Lone Rider (“Have you ever read a Superman comic?” he shrewdly asks), but Stephanie – who isn’t the brightest chick around – doesn’t catch his drift.
Her old boyfriend, Johnny Nogerelli (Adrian Zmed), however, does. He doesn’t appreciate her interest in this Lone Rider creep or in dorky Michael Carrington. Johnny likes to wear black sleeveless t-shirts and enjoys training his tonsils on Steph.
The problem is that director/choreographer Patricia Birch tries to bring those high steppin’, arm-waving innocent production values to an altogether grittier era of emerging 1960s liberalism.
It doesn’t work – but you could spend the time spotting relatives of the stars – Liza Minnelli’s step-sister, Lorna Luft, is the most “distinguished”, in a blonde cup-cake wig as would-be Marilyn Monroe clone Paulette Rebchuck, who doesn’t remotely look, act or move like Marilyn.
There are good supporting performances from Maureen Teefy as Sharon Cooper – a Pink Lady with pretensions (she wears a Jackie Kennedy pillbox hat with her pink jacket and is always royally peeved), Eddie Deezen as Eugene the class creep, and Matt Lattanzi (coincidentally Olivia Newton-John‘s onetime husband) as a clean-cut creep named Brad who heads a smirking trio called The Preptones.