Plot: Judy (Jane Fonda) is in the middle of some drastic life changes, as her husband left her for another woman and now she is about to enter the workforce, after decades as a housewife. She is nervous, but excited and once she arrives at the office, she is a little overwhelmed as well. An office veteran named Violet (Lily Tomlin) takes her under her wing and shows her around, while also more or less letting her know that the office is a boy’s club. Violet details how Mr. Hart (Dabney Coleman) is the boss and he promotes men over women, even if the women are far more deserving of the boosts. This is certainly true of Violet, who basically runs the office, but is constantly overlooked because of her gender. Meanwhile, Mr. Hart’s secretary Doralee (Dolly Parton) tries to evade his creepy come ons, even as the rest of the office sees her as a slut and assumes she is sleeping with the boss. The women are fed up with how the office is run, but can they rise up and make some real changes?
Entertainment Value: A landmark piece of feminist cinema, 9 to 5 tackles some tough issues and does so with a razor sharp sense of humor. The movie pulls no punches in skewering the workplace politics and nails the message it wants to get across, but never feels forced. A trio of relatable, likable characters provide the leads, with a housewife moving into the work force for the first time, a misunderstood secretary, and an office workhorse who never gets the credit or advancement she deserves. These women are easy to connect with and relate to, as they seem like normal, grounded characters you could find in real life. These women are brought to life in grand fashion by Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, and Lily Tomlin, all of whom are on the top of their games and turn in effective performances. The chemistry between the trio is excellent and they play off each other so well, such as in the pot party/revenge fantasy scene, which is one of the film’s highlights. As great as our leads are, you have to give credit to Dabney Coleman, who plays the chauvinist boss with such enthusiasm. This kind of narrative needs a great foil for the leads to go against and Coleman nails the role here, some of his finest comedic work. I also appreciated how the movie tackled an important issue, but did so with skill, instead of virtue signaling. 9 to 5 is able to get the point across and entertain, no simple feat. This is a fun, all around great movie that paved the way for numerous similar films to follow. 9 to 5 is recommended for fans of 80s comedies or anyone who wants to a bad boss get his comeuppance.
No nakedness. This is a PG workplace comedy, so no surprise on the lack of sleaze, though plenty of innuendo is uncorked. No blood. Just some wacky slapstick style comedy, such as Coleman being strung up in an S&M style harness or other minor mishaps. Given the light tone involved, excessive violence would feel out of place, so no concerns there. The dialogue is sharp and well written, with great bursts of humor and some terrific banter. Parton is so much fun as the laid back, but steadfast secretary and she has some terrific lines. Her confrontation with Mr. Hart is a classic scene and she was an excellent choice for the role, as she really makes the most of the material for her character. Tomlin is also a goldmine of witty dialogue, while Coleman is outlandish with his off color lines. This might not seem like a movie with a lot of memorable lines, but 9 to 5 is no slouch in the verbal barbs department. A point for the pot party/revenge fantasy scene, but otherwise this one remains pretty firmly within the usual comedic conventions.
Overall Insanity: 1/10