9 to 5 (1980) / Comedy
aka Nine to Five
MPAA Rated: PG for language, some violence and some sexual humor
Running Time: 111 min.
Cast: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Dabney Coleman, Sterling Hayden, Elizabeth Wilson, Henry Jones, Lawrence Pressman, Marian Mercer
Director: Colin Higgins
Screenplay: Patricia Resnick, Colin Higgins
9 to 5 is a mild, but likeable office comedy which spins its laughs around a serious issue -- sexual harassment and gender discrimination. In the offices run by Franklin Hart Jr. (Coleman, Cloak and Dagger), the women of the office are constantly ogled, groped, made to do menial tasks, and are habitually looked over for promotions to less qualified male employees. Judy Bernly (Fonda, Agnes of God) is a new hire in the company, recently separated and looking to get back into the corporate world. Training Judy is her supervisor, the longtime, long-suffering Violet Newstead (Tomlin, Short Cuts), who has just recently been passed over for a job she more than deserved. Meanwhile, the office is abuzz with rumors of Hart's philandering with his buxom secretary, Doralee (Parton, Frank McClusky C.I.), who is doing anything but. It's all she can do to keep Hart's hands off of her.
Written and directed by Colin Higgins (Foul Play, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), with Patricia Resnick (Straight Talk, Quintet), 9 to 5 alternates between sharp satire, inspired bits of visually arresting comedy combined with some very silly slapstick. It is slow in developing, but once the main premise is set up, it does become an energetic and infectious romp, although it does occasionally get too silly for its own good.
With three well-cast leads, and a very memorable performance by Dabney Coleman (few capture the essence of an a-hole better), 9 to 5 is worth a look for fans of the stars, or for those who enjoy broad farces, especially about office politics. Parton impresses in her big screen debut -- not a great actress but definitely a capable comedienne in her own right. You can't even mention the phrase "9 to 5" to me without getting the hit theme song, which was nominated for an Oscar, stuck in my head for days. (As it has been while writing this entire review. Oh god, please make it stop!)
Not spectacular by any stretch, but fun when you're in the mood.
©2005 Vince Leo