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Miss Judy Bernly, a wronged divorcee,
Is starting her job in an office today.
So Violet Newstead, who has worked there for years,
Shows Judy the ropes and deepens her fears.
She also is met by her boss Franklin Hart,
Who isn’t as nice as he seems at the start.
 
He yells at mistakes and he fires for trifles,
And all innovations he’s eager to stifle,
Except for the ones that he feels can be shown
To his boss, which he then passes off as his own.
He chases his well-endowed aide Doralee,
And, though she resists, sordid rumors roam free.
 
On a day when their boss is especially vile,
The three women leave to get drunk for a while.
Since Violet has pot, they all share it three ways,
And dream how they’d like to make Mr. Hart pay.
Shy Judy would hunt him, Doralee would hog-tie him,
And Violet would poison and gladly defy him.
 
The next day, when Hart hits his head, needing care,
Violet thinks that she may have indeed put him there.
She put poison, not sugar, in Mr. Hart’s drink,
And now he is dead, or at least so they think.
They steal the wrong body and wig out a bit,
But Hart’s fine the next day, until they admit,
 
In the bathroom, what happened, and Hart then is told.
Their “murderous plot” he will gladly withhold
From police, if Miss Doralee comes out and plays,
But all three have had it with Hart’s heartless ways.
Their visions come true, as they tie up the jerk,
And bind him at home to restrain him from work.
 
Their actions so far were impulsive and flawed,
Till they find evidence that Hart’s knee-deep in fraud.
They keep him imprisoned beneath his own roof
For multiple weeks while they wait for their proof.
The three, in the meantime, change things in Hart’s name:
A day care, job sharing, a whole lot less blame.
 
When Hart’s wife sets him free, their whole plan’s all but failed.
He hides his fraud well and cannot be blackmailed.
Back in at the office, Hart’s frightened and floored
When he gets a rare visit from the chair of the board.
He likes the new office and thinks that Hart led it,
So Hart once again gets the blame – I mean, credit.
 
Hart gets a promotion, against his own will,
A job in the jungle somewhere in Brazil.
The girls are ecstatic; the office is free,
And all (except Hart) live and work happily.
______________________
 

Nine to Five is a workplace comedy that feels familiar in many ways. It combines the underdog-vs-boss storyline of Working Girl with the musical getting-ready opening scenes and the overwhelmed newbie coming into her own from The Devil Wears Prada. It has a predatory bathroom scene like that in Witness. The snitch Roz reminds me, for all the world, of Randall/Ms. Finster from the cartoon Recess, constantly reporting to Principal Prickly (coincidentally voiced by Dabney Coleman, who played Mr. Hart). Yet Nine to Five was released in 1980, long before any of these examples.

It is funny throughout, but the stand-out scenes are the girl’s fantasies of getting rid of their boss, which can’t help but elicit cheers, laughs, and serves-you-rights. Violet’s dream even combines live action and animation, acting as a connection between Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

There are some negatives, though, mainly the surprising amount of profanity for a PG-rated movie. Not being a fan of the pot revolution, I also don’t care for the cause of the women’s murderous reveries: a shared joint, which is presented as a guilty pleasure with no consequences rather than a vice or an addiction. Still, except for these, it’s a girl power comedy that should appeal to anyone who has ever had a horrible boss. You can also add Dolly Parton’s Oscar-nominated song “9 to 5” to my End Credits Song Hall of Fame.

Best line: (in Dolly Parton’s dream of vengeance) “Our next contender is Miss Doralee Rhodes. Whoa, she’s already got him! Now, let’s see how long it takes her to hogtie this sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot. Five seconds! Just five seconds!”

 
Artistry: 4
Characters/Actors: 6
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: 5
Originality: 7
Watchability: 6
Other (language and drugs): -7
 
TOTAL: 29 out of 60
 

Tomorrow: #334: An Extremely Goofy Movie

© 2014 S. G. Liput

 

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