Friday Film Review: Nine to Five

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Here we are!  This is my last post on this blog, and I’m very excited that I’m reviewing Nine to Five for it.

First off, if you’re one of those people that, for some inexplicable reason, do not like Dolly Parton, I don’t even know what to say to you.  Shit like that breaks my heart.  She is literally everything that is amazing about Nashville.

This movie revolves around three women working in an office.  Judy (Jane Fonda), a newly divorced lady, has snagged a new job at the office and is working/being trained by Violet (Lily Tomlin), a widow and mother of four kids.  There is also Doralee (Dolly Parton), the sassy personal assistant to the boss, Frank Hart (Dabney Coleman).  The movie is about sexism (and, if you’re paying close attention, racism, ableism, and ageism) and Frank is pretty much just one of the worst bosses around.  He only hires [young/pretty] women, and rules them like slaves from 9-5.

On a technical aspect, there’s nothing that really stands out to me with the film.  It’s a pretty straightforward 80s film.  I liked the opening sequence, because they focused on everyone’s shoes, and all the women had to wear heels as part of workplace attire.  And anyone who’s ever worn heels, you know, it’s kind of the worst thing ever when you have to do it for more than a couple of hours.  And just from looking at the sequence, about half the people looked like women going to work – so a lot.  The women looked stressed, they are getting their kids to school, and they are rushing off to barely make it to work on time, all the while, Parton’s “Nine to Five” song plays in the background, and clearly lays out everything we are about to see.  There’s also a weird murder fantasy sequence, that’s hilarious, as a result of the girls smoking pot (and, most importantly, bonding).

In some ways, this film is mind-blowingly revolutionary.  I’ve seen plenty of films that take a really close look at sexism in everyday life, but not a lot of mainstream ones.  They are few, and very far, between.  Even now, I see movies that aren’t a whole lot different than movies during times where people claim “things were different.”  Hell, it’s rare to have a film starring women, even now.  Ask any Hollywood producer, or a female director – female-lead films are something they hate touching.  So, if you’re afraid of watching this movie because you think it might be boring or a “chick flick,” go away, I don’t want to talk to you.  This film was awesome.

And in other ways, this film shows how far we’ve actually come (it’s not very far).  I worked for YEARS in offices, and dealt with a lot of the same stuff these girls dealt with.  I’ve been sexually harassed.  I’ve been verbally abused.  I’ve trained people to move up over me.  I’ve created projects that my boss took credit for, including materials that went national.  And I’ve been denied promotions, even when they were promised to me, and even though I might have trained everyone in that department, and wrote their training manual.  It hurts.  My feelings actually hurt FOR the characters in the movie.  Because it’s still there.  Maybe it’s less likely for some of the things in the film (at least without repercussions) but it’s all still there, looming over anyone who isn’t a straight white guy.

Then there’s Doralee.  Her character comments on the all too familiar thing girls tend to deal with – sex-based gossip.  She tells her husband, “I’m as nice as I know how to be to every single person down at that office.  Everybody treats me like a bastard at a family reunion.”  Doralee, girl, I can relate.  And she IS one of the sweetest sounding people ever.  So people assume she’s a whore and dumb.  But we, as an audience get to see all the gossip before we really meet her, and with her tight sweater and fluffy blond hair, I know some probably made knee-jerk judgements.  Actually, when Judy first meets Doralee, she subtly touches her own breasts in a weird, judgmental, yet self-conscious gesture.  I’ve actually seen people do that with me (hey, I’ve knocked things over in stores with my knockers, so I’m hyper aware of people’s reactions to my chest).  It was like, a genius thing.  I don’t know if that was a writing thing, or a Fonda thing, but it was beautiful.

All the actors were amazing.  Tomlin is one of my all-time favorites, and she just shined in this role.  She’s intelligent, independent, strong, and yes, just a little crazy.  She shows that even the most level-headed people will snap after a while.  And she’s pretty level-headed.  She can take just about anything in stride, shown by the scene where she’s taking calls, and without skipping a beat, is able to navigate her children’s arguments via a phone call in the midst of madness.

My only criticism of this film is Judy’s character.  I feel like she was the main character, but was the least developed.  It was like, “oh, her hubby left her for a secretary so now she hates secretaries.  Oh, now they are friends, she was wrong about all of them, okay bye.”  They could have done better.  Fonda is a great actor.

Now, as for the boss, I’m not going to really go into that.  Watch the movie, it’s pretty obvious.  He’s a very 2-dimensional character that serves a purpose beyond the actual character.  We don’t need him to be a person.  Women are so flat in movies most of the time, that making him flat was a statement in itself.  The only big difference, is that society doesn’t notice that female characters are flat, that they are only defined by their romantic relationships (or lack thereof), by having/not having children, and most importantly, by their bodies.  They are not making a statement by doing this.  They do this to spotlight the male characters.  I wonder why rape culture is so prevalent?

I did mention very briefly that this film also alludes to other unresolved human rights’ issues.  While they don’t state anything outright, because they are only dealing with WHITE feminism, they still note it.  We see African Americans unable to advance, and when things “change” in the movie, you should notice that there was a lack of diversity in many ways.  You don’t notice, until it’s there/not there anymore.

So, if you are one of those people that don’t believe everyone should be paid equally for the same work, and be afforded dignity with their occupations, AND you see this movie – you are just an asshole.  Because your arguments are idiotic, and they were the same arguments they used to argue against anti-sexual harassment, healthcare, overtime, childcare, etc.  It’s frustrating.  People like that frustrate me.  And hurt my feelings.  I get lots of hurt feelings.

But seriously, watch this movie.  It’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s an easy movie to watch.

Favorite Line:
“And if I wanna have an affair, or play sex games, or do M&M’s, you can’t stop me!” – Judy

Favorite Scene:
I really like the scene where Frank is pursuing Doralee in the office.  It’s the first time I’ve seen a scene like that in a movie, and didn’t get intense anxiety.  Because Doralee is the most calming character with a gun I’ve ever seen.

IMDB Stats:
Director: Colin Higgins
Year: 1980
Rating: PG (although, it’s like, old-school PG – there is a lot of naughty language, and like, drug-use, so if your kids aren’t used to that, proceed with caution)

Currently streaming on Netflix.

That’s all folks!  I’ve enjoyed writing for you all, and I’m even more excited for all the things that I’ve got going for the future.  Happy blogging!

xo – Meg

 

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