Many of you remember the Dolly Parton song, “9 to 5” (not to be confused with the just as catchy Sheena Easton tune, “Morning Train (Nine to Five)”. You may additionally know the movie for which Dolly Parton penned the jingle for, “9 to 5” (1980), the hit office comedy flick which she also starred in. It had the honour of being her first movie, in which she proved that she could act as well as sing.
“9 to 5” is a comedy starring Parton alongside Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda as three office drones at Consolidated Companies who all have one thing in common- intense hatred for their “sexist, lying, egotistical, hypocritical bigot” of a boss, Franklin M. Hart Jr.
Judy Bernly (Fonda), has been forced to get a job as the company secretary after her philandering, appropriately-named husband Dick (Lawrence Pressman) leaves her for a younger woman. Hart shames her on her first day after a photocopier malfunctions. Violet Newstead (Tomlin),is a promising, intelligent veteran of the company, who is left seething when Hart chooses a man over her for a promotion she had her eye on. Rounding out the trio is Doralee Rhodes (Parton), a happily married secretary of Hart’s, who is frequently subjected to his unwanted sexual advances, and is treated as the office pariah as the result of a non-existent affair between her and Hart.
The three women cross paths when they drown their sorrows in a local bar, and later when they get stoned from some drugs belonging to Violet’s son, act out some elaborate revenge fantasies. These include Judy hunting him down for sport, Doralee lassoing him in a rodeo, and Violet pouring rat poison into his coffee, complete with cartoon birds and animals, a la “Snow White”.
This last fantasy ends up causing the women a good deal of hassle in particular, when Violet fears that she has put that very substance in Hart’s coffee. When Roz (Elizabeth Wilson), the office snitch, tells Hart about the incident, he tries to blackmail the three, forcing them to take the logical route- to kidnap Hart while his wife is away on a cruise, and run the office the way they feel it should be run! As you can probably imagine, hilarity does ensue!
“9 to 5” could very well be the inspiration for the 2011 movie “Horrible Bosses”, and to a lesser extent, its sequel. However, “9 to 5” easily trumps the later movies, playing the kidnapping plot lightly and never letting things get too serious or dark for a frothy comedy. The main three leads are perfectly cast, from Fonda as the initially naive office newcomer, Tomlin as the harried, snarky veteran, and Dolly Parton as the lovable, sweet secretary, who does especially well considering that she’d never acted professionally prior to this movie. Dabney Coleman does with he can with the detestable, authoritarian figure of Hart,making a character we love to hate.
In conclusion, “9 to 5” is enjoyable, if somewhat daft in scenes, but it’s a perfect staple of zany 1980’s comedies. I give this movie 4 stars out of 5.