Although it was a big hit when it first came out in 1980, 9 to 5 has slipped into total obscurity. This seems surprising since, while memory recalls it as a moldy wheel of Eighties cheese, it has, amazingly, aged surprisingly well. 9 to 5 stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton as a trio of office workers at the appropriately vague megacorporation Consolidated during the pre-PC (in both senses) era of clackety typewriters and Buick-sized Xerox machines. After tiring of the constant sexist remarks and sleazy come-ons offered up by their boss (played, of course, by Dabney Coleman) the "girls" (Coleman's word, not mine) join forces to smoke a little pot, eat a few bar-b-q ribs, and fantasize about different ways of offing the cretin.
Up until this point, 9 to 5 is surprisingly spunky and boasts some pretty impressive dialog. Tomlin and Parton in particular seem perfectly suited for the material (buying Fonda as a dowdy former-housewife is a bit tougher). Once the joint is passed, however, 9 to 5 enters a whole new dimension. Each woman's fantasy is suited to her personality and the whole sequence is constructed with near-Gilliam glee. Coleman makes such a good villain specifically because he doesn't overplay; His words and his actions hurt and there is no doubt that he is accurately representing a boatload of real-life bosses. So watching him get his comeuppance is sweet.
The rest of the movie (and we're talking the second half here) is filled with the sort of high-concept hijinks that one usually expects from a film like this and is pretty disappointing after the first half. Still, even with the weak ending,9 to 5 works. The frustration that the lead characters feel is real and easily identifiable, but the tone is funny and clever.
The video on 9 to 5 is crisp and clear. It is anamorphic 1.85:1 and looks pretty much free of blemishes. The color scheme, costumes, and set designs are ugly, but that speaks more of the times than the film.
The audio is available in Dolby Digital stereo surround and the original mono, although there isn't too much of a difference. Parton's country-fried pop title track still has the same cheery-cheesy appeal (it sounds like a spoof of itself) and the dialog is all clear. A French mono track is also available, as are English and Spanish subtitles.
Only a few trailers and some stills are included. The 9 to 5 trailer, however, is a gem. It plays more like an educational reel on the life of a secretary (with a twist, of course) and is very entertaining. None of the footage appears to be from the film. It is an excellent example of effective marketing.
The other trailers all seem to be for films that share with 9 to 5 some strange demographic: Fans of films about women in the workplace (Norma Rae, Working Girl), fans of middle-age divas (For the Boys) and fans of movies with the number "nine" in the title (Nine Months). Haven't yet figured out where The Truth About Cats and Dogs fits in, but I'll let you know as soon as I do.
9 to 5 is a funny, lively movie that deserves a fresh look. It doesn't carry through all the way to the end but it has a charisma and spontaneity that a lot of the movies lack.