“Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition and yawn and stretch and try to come to life.” — 9 to 5, Dolly Parton.
Things got a little weird in the plot of 9 to 5 as far as the lengths the characters go to in order to combat the misgivings of their boss Franklin Hart (Dabney Coleman), but it does stand out for its comedic dynamic between Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton and underlying message on gender issues in the workplace circa 1980.
The film, by Colin Higgins (Harold and Maude – another title on my list), centers first on Tomlin’s character, Violet Newstead, as she fights stereotypes and gender discrimination in the workplace that prevents her from moving her way up the ladder like her male counterparts.
She is joined by Doralee Rhodes (Parton) and newcomer Judy Bernly (Fonda) who have their own issues with Hart and form a friendship over their struggles at work and in other areas of their lives.
That part of the film starts to show their on-screen chemistry, the development of comedic styles still used in movies today as well as the commentary on societal injustices.
Each character has a fantasy about revenge against Hart until he is taken out of commission as a result of Violet accidentally putting rat poison in his coffee (or so they think.)
Violet, Rhoda and Judy go to extremes to cover up Hart’s time away from work and they’re not even responsible. As a result they have the run of the place and can finally break away from Hart’s controlling management style and male bias to implement workplace equality.
Outside of its strange turns at times, I did appreciate the overall comedic tone of 9 to 5 and the saving grace of Tomlin, Parton and Fonda’s acting.
If nothing else, unless you get up very early to watch the movie before work, the song 9 to 5 is a good way to start your day.
In other news, I’m continuing to read Emily V. Gordon’s book Super You and find her advice to be thought-provoking and sometimes inspirational, even taken out of context.
“One of the scariest things in life is realizing how little control you have in this world.”
–Emily V. Gordon.