Potted Film Review: 9 to 5 (1980)

Starring: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton

What’s it all about?
Judy (sheepishly played by Jane Fonda) is the new addition to a sexist office in which Violet (played by Lily Tomlin) is the highest ranking woman. Doralee (Dolly Parton in her most famous role) is the stereotypical blonde secretary who is objectified and leered over by the boss (eighties comedy bad guy, Dabney Coleman).

When Violet is passed over for a promotion – primarily because she is a woman – she decides enough is enough. Along with the other two girls they get drunk and stoned, and they each fantasise about ways in which to off their boss…

…and it’s here that 9 to 5 gets a little crazy. Although the movie lays out its intention from the beginning and doesn’t pretend to be anything deeper than it is, it moves from a fairly straight comedy to surreal farce in short order, and just as it’s time to wrap things up, it’s hard to take any of it seriously at all.

Watching it with the kids…
This is a cheeky comedy, which feels like a reduced fat version of a Carry On movie, and there’s nothing in here that you wouldn’t find in one of those.

9 to 5 is certainly not the movie I had expected, but it is a time capsule – a love letter to a period of history that just isn’t around anymore. In 1980 I’m sure this was seen as progressive, but the current generation will probably find it difficult to watch in 2019, given their sensitivity when it comes to workplace equality… and their inability to take any sort of humour from topics as serious as sexism and misogyny. But take it as the light-hearted romp it is, and it’s a fun trip.


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