Still the Coolest Rider: Stephanie Zinone and Grease 2 at 40

We adore certain movies with such fervent, exuberant, out-of-control and infinite love that they feel like an inextricable part of our lives. There is no us without them.

I feel this way about quite a few of Michelle Pfeiffer’s movies, and one of them is celebrating its fortieth anniversary today. Grease 2 might’ve been considered the unsuccessful sequel to the smash hit original, but in the years since it has developable a massive cult following. Grease 2 fans are legion, and we are obsessed with this movie. The actors, the dialogue, the musical numbers, the wardrobes and overall aesthetic of the film: all of it. It’s an ultimate comfort movie for so many of us. I’ve made lifelong friends through our shared love of it. When I discover that someone loves Grease 2, I just know they’re gonna be cool—a Cool Rider, if you will.

Michelle as Pink Lady Stephanie Zinone is the very definition of cool. She might be looking for a devil in skintight leather, but she’s cooler than any Cool Rider out there. Every line she utters is memorable—“Yeah, I’m free every day. It’s in the Constitution” being just one of my favorites. Her friendship-turned-romance with Michael—the Cool Rider she’s been looking for—is sweet and sexy. Michelle and Max Caufield have scorching hot chemistry—if you don’t believe me, just watch that epic kiss at the end of the movie.

Few characters in movie history are as dear to me as Stephanie. She was one of the first Pfeiffer characters I knew and crushed on, making a lifelong fan out of me. She’s tough but sensitive, snarky but sweet. In many ways she’s a Gen X icon, in that she represents the sort of dichotomy inherent in most members of my generation—she’s part of a group (the Pink Ladies) but always remains fiercely independent. Even her longing for the Cool Rider is still empowered—she retains her agency throughout by proving that a woman can fall in love without sacrificing her inner self. She’s inspired an awful lot of fans of this film through her iconoclastic style and swagger, as well as her commitment to thriving as an individual in a world built to crush individuality.

If I’m making Grease 2 sound deeper than you think it is, well, then you need to revisit the film, friend. It is deep! But it’s also an absolute blast, with unforgettable musical numbers like Stephanie’s tour-de-force “Cool Rider”—“No ordinary boy is gonna do/I want a rider that’s cool”—or the riotously funny “Reproduction”—“Make my stamen go berserk” that stay lodged in your brain forever. The film is full of joy and laughs. Supporting players like Adrian Zmed and Lorna Luft, among others, make memorable impressions. The entire cast gives it their all, singing and dancing and delivering hilariously ribald dialogue with gusto. Patricia Birch directs it all with an energetic confidence that positively pulses with life. The film is sweet, beautiful, funny, and romantic, wearing its heart firmly on its sleeve.

Happy fortieth to the cult classic with a fan base like few others. Grease 2 taught us so much—always order your burgers with double ketchup, be exciting weird, and always be true to yourself—and we are forever grateful.

4 thoughts on “Still the Coolest Rider: Stephanie Zinone and Grease 2 at 40

  1. Boy oh boy do I love this movie, Michael. I was a fan of Grease and I think this sequel is not really a sequel at all, but a retelling of the story with an empowering twist for the pink ladies and spectacular role reversal for the male lead as well!! Who else could have played the leading lady so perfectly! I am grateful to have Michelle in this role as well as Maxwell…the combination is as hot as burnt rubber under Michael’s spinning motorcycle wheel!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Michelle! Even in her first leading role she’s already too good for her own movies, too cool for school.
    Love your tribute Michael, especially the kiss gif. Hot, hot, hot!

    Liked by 1 person

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