Plasticized, inflated, and bulgingly grotesqued replica of the 1950s -- a distinctly 1970s replica with 1970s music, dance, and condescension infiltrating the Brylcreem and bobby-sox milieu. There are some pleasant musical numbers: a parallel-constructed duet that ping-pongs between John Travolta at the football-stadium bleachers and Olivia Newton-John at the school lunch tables; Frankie Avalon's "Beauty School Dropout" fantasy sequence; and Travolta's "Stranded at the Drive-In" lament. (This last number memorializes, once and for all, the classic double-entendre snack-bar advertisement in which a hotdog bun commands a wiener to do somersaults before it invites the obedient wienie to enter its cozy folds.) Travolta is given rather little to do, though he is encouraged to do it over and over again; his oddest, and funniest, moments come when he is put through a series of athletic trials almost identical to Buster Keaton's in College. This noisy, blowzy musical is so cliché-happy (slumber party, Lovers' Lane, high-school hop, drag race, etc.) that it inevitably strikes a few resounding cultural chords. But it has no idea how to orchestrate them into a meaningful whole. With Stockard Channing, Eve Arden, Sid Caesar; directed by Randal Kleiser. (1978) — Duncan Shepherd
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