Nine to Five (1980) starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Dabney Coleman, Sterling Hayden, Elizabeth Wilson, Marian Mercer directed by Colin Higgins - movie review on The Movie Scene

Nine to Five (1980)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda in Nine to Five

Dabney's in a Dolly Grip

Prior to a recent rewatch I had only seen "Nine to Five" once, it was sometime back in the 80s when I was a teen and I remember enjoying the fun of these 3 women who kidnap their boss. And to be honest having watched it again "Nine to Five" is still as much fun, be it the trio of Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin making unlikely friends to Dabney Coleman being their male chauvinist boss getting his comeuppance. And all the set pieces, the comedy of errors which lead to body snatching in a hospital through to the contraption they use to tie up their boss is all still entertaining. But then the rest of the movie seemed a bit of a let down and whilst 110 minutes isn't long "Nine to Five" certainly feels drawn out.

Having just started a new job Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda - Monster-in-Law) discovers several things, her superior Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin - The Kid) is a smart, intelligent woman who thanks to sexism has been passed over and Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton - Steel Magnolias), the personal secretary to Franklin M. Hart Jr. (Dabney Coleman), is not the tart everyone thinks and is just as smart. But more importantly she learns that their boss Franklin M. Hart Jr. is a male chauvinist pig who has manipulated and lied his way into his position of power. With all 3 of them sick of the way he treats them and other women find themselves in the surprisingly position of kidnapping him and in his absence set about changing the way the office works to suit them.

Lily Tomlin as Violet Newstead in Nine to Five

It's rather embarassing to think that at one time there were bosses like Franklin M. Hart Jr. whose male chauvinist attitude was the norm. But as the focus of 3 women's ire Hart is certainly an extreme and to be fair he needs to be extreme for "Nine to Five" to work. Or at least for the first half of "Nine to Five" to work because this is a movie of two halves with the first half being all about Hart's chauvinistic ways. We watch as he tries to seduce his secretary Doralee, steals ideas from Violet and is basically mean to any woman he can't use or try and seduce including Judy. It is fun, a little uncomfortable because whilst extreme this was once not that unusual, but you do get the humour of the women plotting what they would do to him if they could get their own back. And trust me some of the things they think of is quite brilliant, Lily Tomlin dressed as Snow White putting poison in coffee is something you will never forget.

The second half of "Nine to Five" which comes off of the back of some craziness in a hospital with mistaken identity and a dead body is all about the women getting their revenge on Hart. And so we have the comedy of Hart being held hostage, bound and gagged and connected to an electronic garage door opener to prevent him from escaping whilst the women gain the evidence to prove he is corrupt and go about changing the way the office runs. The irony of this is that whilst we have the humour of Violet, Doralee and Judy kidnapping Hart most of the humour comes from the way Hart is bound up and his attempts to escape.

The thing is that whilst "Nine to Five" is full of comedy and has a storyline about women getting their own back on Hart it does feel incredibly drawn out. As I said at 110 minutes "Nine to Five" is not that long yet because in-between the humour there isn't much story it does feel drawn out.

Now it has to be said that the trio of Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin certainly provide plenty of entertainment especially Dolly Parton as she evades Hart's amorous advances in the office. And each of their fantasies about how they would deal with Hart be it hog tied, shot or poisoned is fun but for me the real start of "Nine to Five" is Dabney Coleman as Hart. Yes the level of chauvinism is uneasy but it is also comically extreme and watching him bound and hanging in the air is a sight you won't forget in a hurry. But it is also the sort of Dick Dhastardly element he gives the character, the tone of voice which makes him so amusing especially as he does basically end up being out witted. Without Coleman's strong comical performance "Nine to Five" would have ended up even more laborious.

What this all boils down to is that "Nine to Five" is still a fun movie and there is plenty which will put a smile on your face. But whilst it has humour and story it does feel drawn out and at just 110 minutes feels at times painfully slow.


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