As a man, I can't help but hate myself just a little for enjoying 9 To 5 at all – built as a farcical feminist fantasy, this 1980 screwball comedy shot through with social satire is designed to make women feel empowered next to those, well, sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigots. Jane Fonda (who also produced), Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton star as Judy Bernly, Violet Newstead and Doralee Rhodes, respectively, a trio of secretaries working for the faceless Consolidated corporation; overseen by the smarmy Franklin Hart (Dabney Coleman), the three women bide their time and wait their chance to kidnap the boss and prove that women have value in the workplace, beyond merely serving as window dressing.
Directed and co-written by Colin Higgins (who passed away in 1988, but in addition to this film, penned a number of classic screen comedies, including Harold & Maude, Silver Streak and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), 9 To 5 hinges upon the performances of Tomlin, Parton, Fonda and Coleman; Fonda is routinely upstaged by Tomlin, Parton and Coleman, but that's not to say that her portrayal of Judy isn't great, merely that the scene-stealing Parton, the acidly funny Tomlin and the unctuous Coleman get a few more chances to cut loose (although the stoned fantasy sequences for all three women are one of the film's high points).
Higgins maintains a light touch throughout this witty sexual harassment farce, occasionally straying into preachy territory; on the whole, the film hasn't aged well and is very much a product of its time, but as a comedy skewering office politics and the nascent women's lib movement, it's still quite likable. Too long by about 20 minutes, the first half of 9 To 5 zips along, leaving the final third to drag noticeably – the nearly deadened pace of the film's finale is enough to keep 9 To 5 from being an outright classic, but the lead performances are more than enough to recommend this comedic Eighties staple.
9 To 5 looks absolutely stunning for being 26 years old – the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer occasionally shows its seams (notably during special effects sequences) but overall, is very sharp and clean. Free of major defects, save for occasional, noticeable grain, this is a very slick visual presentation.
Whereas the image doesn't disappoint, the audio certainly does: outfitted with a Dolby 2.0 stereo soundtrack, the score overpowers dialogue more than once and I had to crank the volume up a bit to hear what characters were saying. It's a very thin mix, lacking any real presence – it's a shame Fox couldn't at least remix the film in Dolby Digital 5.1. An English mono mix, along French and Spanish mono mixes are here, as are English and Spanish subtitles.
Boasting perhaps the most senseless, lengthy special edition title in recent memory, this version marks Fox's second release of 9 To 5 on DVD with considerably more special features this go-round. A commentary track featuring
producer Bruce Gilbert, Fonda, Parton and Tomlin is here as is the 24-minute, fullscreen featurette "Nine @ 25: Revisiting a Comedy Classic," which includes new interviews with Fonda, Parton, Tomlin, Coleman, Gilbert, actress Elizabeth Wilson and co-screenwriter Patricia Resnick; 10 deleted scenes in non-anamorphic widescreen, playable separately or together, run an aggregate of 11 minutes, 30 seconds; the four-minute featurette "Remembering Colin Higgins"; a five-minute, full-screen gag reel in extremely rough form; "Singing Nine To Five Karaoke," plays over a montage of clips and the film's theatrical trailer rounds out the package.
A witty, somewhat dated feminist farce, 9 To 5 boasts three great performances from Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin as well as Parton's insanely catchy, classic title tune. Writer/director Colin Higgins maintains a deft touch but can't quite reach the status of genuine classic. Recommended.