July 05, 1982 12:00 PM

Grease is most emphatically not the word this summer. For starters, Grease 2 doesn’t have the original’s John Travolta or Olivia Newton-John. Two years later their replacements at Rydell High (it’s now 1961) are Maxwell Caulfield, who recently won raves off-Broadway as the bisexual stud in Entertaining Mr. Sloane, and Michelle Pfeiffer, a regular on TV’s short-lived Delta House. Both are sexy poster material, perhaps even talented, but Ken Finkleman’s script stifles them. The story involves Pfeiffer’s longing for a “cool rider,” a biker who will sweep her away and fulfill her sexual fantasies. Caulfield, a shy British student, takes on a secret macho identity in helmet and goggles to woo her away from black-jacketed boyfriend Adrian Zmed. A brainless plot is less a liability when the songs and dances are as inspired as they were in Grease, the most profitable movie musical ever. But the sequel’s production numbers, again choreographed by Patricia Birch (who also debuts as director), are strictly hand-me-downs. Lorna Luft, Judy Garland’s other daughter, handles the comic relief with aplomb, and it’s nice seeing those ’50s teen idols Tab Hunter and Connie Stevens as the older generation. But Grease 2 has no zing; it’s about as likely to succeed as a beauty school dropout. (PG)

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