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Nine to Five (9 to 5)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that NINE TO FIVE (aka 9 TO 5) is a funny revenge story about three female office workers who take on their arrogant, sexist boss. Slapstick cartoon action (car chases, a corpse mix-up, a kidnapping, hog-tying, gunfire) moves the plot from one outrageous situation to another, all obviously make-believe with no injuries or deaths. Fighting sexual harassment in the workplace is the core story line, and with it comes sleazy seduction attempts and threats, breast ogling, references to infidelity, and a man who has no respect for the women who work for him. Language is salty throughout, including "s--t," "bastard," "ass," "screwing," "butt," "pee," "goddamn," "banging the boss," and "bitch." The blowhard male constantly demeans the women, leering and calling them "girls," "pretty face," and "nice package." There is some social drinking, and one female employee is portrayed as habitually drunk. A lengthy scene finds the three leading ladies sharing a marijuana cigarette; they eat, laugh hysterically, and bond. Given the subject matter and the situations, this movie is best for teens.
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What's the story?
Consolidated Industries is a terrible place to work in NINE TO FIVE. Franklin M. Hart, Jr. (Dabney Coleman) is a nightmare masquerading as a boss. Sexually harassing Doralee (Dolly Parton), his voluptuous, upright secretary; stealing ideas and credit from Violet (Lily Tomlin), the smartest woman in the office; and setting down rigid rules and ridiculous regulations for an entire staff filled with women who desperately need their jobs, the no-nothing Mr. Hart has all the power in the world ... plus a stoolie (Elizabeth Wilson) to spy on everyone. That's what Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda), a sweet, innocent divorcée, finds on her first day on the job. It must be serendipity that Judy's presence and a night of hilarious, marijuana-fueled fantasizing about what all three might do to get even with their shameless employer sets a devilish plot in motion. In classical farce mode, which involves poisoning, kidnapping, an errant corpse, and making extravagant changes to the office status quo, Doralee, Violet, and Judy want nothing less than payback on a monumental scale.
Is it any good?
The movie is outrageous and silly -- but oh, how satisfyingly to-the-point. When it was released in 1980, this farcical tale struck a chord with audiences in early stage awareness of office misbehavior of the sexual kind. Making fun of longstanding indignities and sexual blackmail heightened both consciousness and consciences. The actors, including the vanity-free Dabney Coleman, go all out, doubling down on the quirky characters and wacky situations. Decades later, it's still funny, miraculously off the wall, and relevant. Well-paced and directed with gusto, for the most part, it can be forgiven for a little sluggishness as the story winds down to a satisfying ending.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ongoing issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. Since this film was released in 1980, how much has changed in both awareness and action? What resources do employees now have to help them?
Movies often inspire cultural and social change. Can comic movies such as this one be a part of this process? How does laughing at questionable behavior help alter our perceptions?
What is a "character arc"? Which of the three heroines has the most vivid and life-changing character arc? How do the filmmakers show this progression?
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