Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What a Way to Make a Livin'

9 to 5, now a hit Broadway musical, began as a successful '80s film about sexual politics in the workplace. Three female office employees (Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda) fantasize about getting even with the company's "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" of a boss.

When a mix-up leads the women to think they have accidentally poisoned their boss' coffee, though, they hatch a scheme to protect themselves by stealing his body from the morgue. When he turns up alive and threatens to have them thrown in jail, he finds himself a prisoner in his own home. His employees then use the occasion of his absence from the office to make some changes in the workplace.

I grew up listening to Dolly Parton, but was never a huge fan of her work. Watching her in this satire, though, I have a newfound respect for her comedic chops. She also wrote the extremely catchy title song.

There are a lot of great moments: Judy's experience with the office Xerox machine, Violet pretending to be a doctor at the hospital, and of course Doralee (whom Hart calls his "mistress") tying up her boss in his own home.

I think I (along with so many other women, even 30 years later) can relate to the basic plot premise, which probably has something to do with why the movie did so well. I spent four years in a workplace in which I was the only female; not only that, but I was the only employee under 30. There were so many times that I thought, If only I could actually make some changes around here. Maybe they take it a little too far, but you can't help but think that Hart had it coming.

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