So fresh, so innocent, the New Girl at a bustling high school - stuffed with macho toughs, conniving vixens and 32-year-old seniors - doffs her virginal shell and woos the cocky Boy of Her Dreams. They are America's Singing Sweethearts, inspiring summer crushes and clunky dance moves the world over.
That's right, we're talking Sandy and Danny from Grease.
Unless you're under 14, in which case we're talking Troy and Gabs from High School Musical.
There's great passion for each cinematic franchise, and it's about to get more intense. Disney's High School Musical 3: Senior Year opens Friday, which means there will be more songs to learn, more dance moves to memorize, more jokes to make about Ashley Tisdale's beak.
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Grease ... and, um, the 26th anniversary of Grease 2.
So we ask you: Where would you rather go to school?HSM's East High or Grease's Rydell?
When Times staff writers Sean Daly and Stephanie Hayes were asked to defend their fave musical franchise, a slow boil turned into a flat-out slugfest, which turned into a totally awesome dance scene on a roller coaster!
But then Steph (pro-Grease) and Sean (pro-HSM) started fighting again: Summer Nights vs. Get'cha Head in the Game! Kenickie's DA vs. Chad's Lhasa apso 'do!
Pick a side, T-Birds and Wildcats, and let the debate begin.
GREASE: Listen, Sean, Danny and Sandy are the archetype for all that is awesome. Smoking hot, limber, dentally endowed. And they teach us valuable life lessons: Wear inappropriate stretch pants and get your man! What's more American?
HSM:Oh, come on, Stephanie. Olivia Newton-John and and John Travolta were 57 years old when they made Grease! I got more turned on watching my parents kiss. At least Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens look like moony, fresh-faced high-schoolers ... or at least the moony, fresh-faced high-schoolers who called me Capt. Fatpants in 10th grade.
GREASE:Sean, I hardly know where to start. There's Rizzo, who swills booze, showers cold and skips Aunt Flo. There's Marty, who makes naughty with Vince Fontaine. There's Cha Cha, who looks like a T-Pain video extra. Even Twinkie fan Jan hooks up! Whatchu got, Daly? Did your girls drink Coke past 7 p.m.? Sneak into Beverly Hills Chihuahua?
HSM:Hey Steph, I'll admit that Cha Cha and her supergams helped usher me to the door of manhood ... or at least my dad's Playboy collection. But Ashley Tisdale's bratastic Sharpay - so vainglorious, so vengeful, so totally 21st century Veruca Salt - is the most brilliantly realized character in either movie. Seriously, Tisdale is a comedic wonder, with or without that disastrously reconfigured honker.
Sidekick with Tremendous Hair
GREASE:A hickey from Kenickie is like a Hallmark card ... from a guy with super-sexy, gravity-defying hair!
HSM: Corbin Bleu's voluminous Chad shag is like something pulled out of Jim Henson's nightstand. And that's a compliment. Fraggle Rock, yo!
GREASE:Greased Lightning! It got KNIFED by Lorenzo Lamas' evilmobile, and it STILL won the race. How's that golf cart holding up, Troy? Ha, ha, Sean, your movie stinks!
HSM:Gimme a break, Steph, the kid's 16. What's he supposed to drive? I bet you were a wallflowery nerd in high school, weren't you, Steph? That's why you're so angry now. Man, I hate you and your totally rockin' movie.
GREASE: "The chicks will BLEEP ... I can get off my BLOOP ... She's a real BLARP wagon." Cough. Uh, is it warm in here? Did Mama Hayes really let me watch this when I was 10? Is this what my therapist meant by "repressed feelings of shame"? Aw, man, I'm just gonna pop into church right quick.
HSM: You want filthy? You want sick? Try this nasty-hot poetry from HSM2's Work This Out: "Tell me what you want / Tell me what you need / A little bit of sugar / A little bit of butter." Yeah, that's right: Seany Fatpants has a food fetish.
GREASE: Born to Hand Jive is the ultimate dance bonanza, Sean. There's competition, romance, jealousy, glaringly misplaced disco moves. And who among us hasn't been forced to wag thumbs at some tragic eighth-grade chorus concert? It endures.
HSM:Yeah, Steph, but it doesn't top the basketball number for HSM's Get'cha Head in the Game, a hip-thrusting beatdown of Spaulding squeaks and sweaty youth. You know why you never saw Fred Astaire singing, dancing and pulling off hot Globetrotters action? 'Cause he wasn't Zac Efron, baby! Down goes Grease! Down goes Grease!
GREASE: Nothing feels better than hitting the open bar at a wedding reception, plugging your nose and wailing, "Those su-huuuu-mer niiiiiiiiiiiiights!" I think people play High School Musical songs at weddings, too, in certain states where the legal marriage age is fuzzy. Cheers, Sean!
HSM:You want the power of song? Sharpay's Fabulous from HSM2 has single-handedly turned a nation of little girls into vicious materialistic demonettes intent on ruling the globe in bikinis and heels. This includes my daughter, whose repetition of Sharpay's "I want more!" slogan - followed by tears and hate - is repeatedly shrieked from the backseat. So you see, Steph? Fabulous, um, rocks.
GREASE: It's a little awkward watching Danny wail Sandy in misery at the drive-in after she gives him the chilly brush-off. Buck up, buddy! She'll turn fast and loose and ciggy when the big school carnival rolls around!
HSM: What's the number in HSM2 where Troy frolics around the 18th hole like Brian Boitano without the switchblade edge?
Adrian Zmed Factor
GREASE:That's not cool, Sean. Why bring up Dance Fever Boy? Doesn't Michelle Pfeiffer cancel him out? It's science!
HSM:I needed some leverage here. I'm getting smoked. Hence, Grease 2 and His Zmedness.
GREASE: Zac Efron is cute, but his peepers are really close together. He could read War and Peace down the thin side of a ruler. Everyone in Grease looks perfectly normal.
HSM: Whoa, wait just a second. Use that Missing poster age-progression software on a snapshot of Efron and who do you get? That's right: John "Super Beady" Travolta! Nice try.
GREASE:It's one of the most popular musicals in history, the go-to for community playhouses everywhere! DVDs fly off shelves and songs wail from iPods! Adults can sit through it without gouging their brains with a melon baller! You want to get down and grovel now, or should we wait until more people are around to watch, huh, Fatpants?
HSM: This is like high school all over again, Steph. Just leave me alone, okay? I'm not fat. I'm just big-boned! Big-boned!
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. Stephanie Hayes can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8857.