The kid loooooves movie musicals.
She's been feeling a little under the weather with a summer cold, so yesterday we let her veg out in front of the TV to watch her new Camp Rock DVD. A freight train could have come through the living room and she wouldn't have noticed; she was completely sucked in and didn't move from her chair the entire movie.
I, on the other hand, was not so impressed. It was your typical Disney made-for-TV movie: poor but talented teen girl goes to music camp, pretends to be someone she's not to fit in with the snobby but popular diva clique, falls for a boy, loses the boy when he finds out she's been lying about who she is, gets the boy back when she learns The Big Lesson about being true to herself, and wows everyone with her pop princess voice at the talent show. It was a lukewarm follow-up to the High School Musical phenomenon. It didn't have the heart and the catchy tunes of HSM.
See, I am a closet fan of HSM. When Ainsley watched it the first time on Disney Channel, it was because, secretly, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I was surprised when I actually enjoyed it. And I did not object when Ains wanted to buy both the original and the sequel after we had watched both on TV; if I could have bought Grease to watch over and over again at her age, you better bet I would have worn that sucker out.
Talking with the hubby about Ains's musical obsession we realized that HSM is to Ains what Grease was to girls my age (well, what the edited-for-TV version was for girls my age). That movie, for most of us, was our first experience with a musical.
My dad was not a big movie-goer, but when my older sister wanted soooo badly to see that movie back in 1978 and was not old enough to get in by herself, he took her to the theater and suffered through it. He complained about it, and said he didn't much like sitting with his daughter during some of the more suggestive scenes, but then later he gave up the TV to let me and mom watch it when it would make its regular broadcast appearances. I think secretly he dug it.
From the day my sister saw Grease in 1978 to, I would say, sometime in 1980, one of us played a song from that movie on the record player every day. Joanie couldn't afford the whole soundtrack on LP, so she bought 45s of her favorites. I used to sing myself hoarse trying to match pitch with Olivia on "Hopelessly Devoted to You." And "Summer Lovin'"? Fuhgeddaboutit. Jason and I have said that if we were getting married now, and weren't so caught up in the whole "classy wedding" thing, our first dance would totally be a recreation of "You're The One That I Want". (Don't think Jason could pull it off? He was in his high school's show choir junior and senior year and danced under the direction of a former A Chorus Line dancer who was also our first lesson in, ahem, diversity. And Jason played Kenickie in said high school's production of Grease. Boyfriend can cut a rug. I'd be the one dancing like Jerry Springer.)
I heard that there is a 30th anniversary edition DVD coming out sometime this year. On the one hand, hooray! As much as I love it, I don't have it on DVD yet. On the other hand...is Ainsley ready for it in all its unedited glory?
Not only is there the brief little bit of nudity when the boys moon the dance-off camera, but there's the whole "Greased Lightning" sequence (I was shocked the first time I saw the theatrical release on tape, in college no less, and heard what the chicks'll REALLY do when they see Greased Lightning). Then there's also the heartwarming message: to get the guy, it's not enough to be pretty and sweet; you've got to be hot. Preferably with big hair and a rockin' bod sewn into black spandex.
It might be very, very Disney, but I do love the message of HSM. Be yourself. If you want to be a jock AND sing your cute little heart out in the school musical, go for it. You can also be both a brainiac and a big-voiced beauty. Don't limit yourself to a clique. It's a great thing for kids to learn.
And, I don't know if you've heard, but 5-year-olds think Zac Efron is VERY cute.
So cute, in fact, that Ainsley wanted to rent Hairspray earlier this summer just because she saw "Troy's" picture on the cover. Just like the other musicals she's seen, she got completely, jaw-dropped-and-drool-on-her-shirt caught up. Even though I know she didn't get some of the subtle PG-13 innuendo. And it was great telling her that the guy (!) playing Tracy's mom was kind of my generation's Zac Efron. He's still a little cute, even in drag (though I was, even before Jason, more of a Kenickie girl.)
So maybe it's time for her to meet Frenchy, Sandy, Danny, and the kids. With a parent in the room to supervise, of course.
If she gets lucky, we might even be able to bring "Kenickie" out of retirement to distract her with his cleaned-up lyrics and rockin' moves to "Greased Lightning." I am talking Jason, of course, and not creepy Jeff Conaway.
What say you? Is Grease appropriate 6-year-old viewing? Are you a fan or a hater? And is Olivia Newton John still hot or what?