Working Girl



Sexed-up '80s corporate tale with stellar cast.
  • Review Date: February 21, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 115 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Lutz sexually harasses Tess and sets her up with a colleague for sex, but tells Tess it's for a possible job. Katharine lies and attempts to steal Tess' idea for a corporate acquisition. When she gets caught, she tells the deal makers that Tess stole the idea. Tess masquerades as Katharine's equal instead of her secretary, stealing her clothes and persona to get what she wants. Jack sleeps with Tess even though he has a girlfriend. The moral is that to get ahead you have to lie, cheat and steal, even if you're stealing back your own idea.

Not applicable

Lots of sexual innuendo and women in lingerie and naked. Tess wears stockings, a garter belt, and a strapless bra for long stretches of scenes, and Katharine implies that she's slept with a doctor at the hospital where she's convalescing. Tess spends the night in Jack's bed after passing out from a combination of tequila and valium, and thinks she slept with him. Tess and Jack have sex, though most of it isn't shown. Tess' boyfriend cheats on her, and she walks in to find the couple having sex. The girl is naked, breasts exposed. The couple lay in bed naked together. Tess' boss sets her up with a man whom she thinks wants to hire her. Actually, he tries to seduce her by playing a porn, in which a naked woman is having oral sex performed on her.


Some salty language, including "goddamn," "damn," "f--k," "s--t," "slut," "bitch" and "ass."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Considerable drinking and some drug use. A stockbroker snorts coke and pops a bottle of champagne. Tess takes a valium and then drinks tequila with Jack. She passes out and is afraid she had sex with him when she was unconscious.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that ages 14 and up could watch this on TV, where it airs fairly often. They give it quite a makeover to take out some of the racier content. Main characters Tess, Jack, and their contemporaries are in the midst of a drug-fueled, greedy era in which people will use anything they can, including their sexuality, to get what they want. Lots of women are naked in this film, from a woman in a porn video to the woman Mick cheats on Tess with. When they aren't naked, they're wearing revealing lingerie, from the full garter-belt get-up to a sexy slip. There are lots of cautionary tales in this film on how not to behave: At one point, Tess passes out from combining valium with tequila. When she wakes up in the morning in Jack's bed, she worries that she may have had sex with him. Today that would be considered rape. Everyone in this film lies to everyone else to get ahead, even when it's Tess stealing her idea back from Katharine.

What's the story?

Staten Island-raised working-class woman Tess (Melanie Griffith) is determined to put her brilliant business mind to work. She tells a personnel director (Olympia Dukakis), "It took me five years of night school, but I got my degree and I got it with honors. I know I could do a job." But no one will seem to let her, from her sexist stockbroker boss who pimps her out under the guise of work promotions to the female boss who tells her they're equals but stabs her in the back. When her latest boss, Katharine (Sigourney Weaver) steals her idea for a corporate merger, Tess gets her revenge. Taking advantage of her Katharine's absence, she masquerades as her corporate equal and starts to broker the deal herself. But can she really do what she's been telling people she can do? And can she deal with the strong attraction she has to her acquisition partner (Harrison Ford)?

Is it any good?


WORKING GIRL is a screwball comedy filled with terrific performances. There are some iconic lines in the film: "I have a mind for business and a bod for sin," Tess tells Jack upon first meeting; Cyn (Joan Cusack) yelps at seeing the price of a dress Tess is stealing from Katharine, "Six thousand dollars?!? It's not even leather!" The laughs are there, but for the right mature audience that can handle all the sexual content and the questionable ethics.

Today's teens will probably look at Working Girl as an artifact from our ratted hair and shoulderpad past, complete with unironic mullets and really high-waisted pants. But it's also an artifact of the greedy '80s, told with enough humor and gentle spirit from star Melanie Griffith to make it a kinder, gentler Wall Street.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the ethics questions this film brings up. Is it ever OK to pretend to be someone you're not to get what you want? What about lying to people and stealing their ideas? How are humor and over-the-top characters used to lampoon this greedy era?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 21, 1988
DVD release date:April 17, 2001
Cast:Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver
Director:Mike Nichols
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:115 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:partial nudity, sexuality and adult themes

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written bycalliope1 November 25, 2014


This movie I think was misrepresented in the trailer. It was not feel good movie where the right guy gets thegirl that I thought it would be. There are many scenes that I skipped over because of nudity. The movie itself was really slow as well. Not appropriate for teens below 16.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written byMichael Fraraccio January 7, 2015

"There's this woman. It's over."

Highly Recommended
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 13 year old Written bycolten97 October 10, 2012

You know you've had a boss like this.

Someone who stole your ideas, used you to advance their career, and did everything to keep you from getting the credit you deserve. I think of him every time I watch this movie, and although he got his come-uppance, as such people usually do, this one is still more satisfying. Griffith is a little annoying as the giggly secretary with ambition, but it works. Weaver is the greatest comedic villain since Cruella DeVil. You know she's going to fall, and she does in more ways than one. While she's mending broken bones from a ski trip, her secretary finds a memo capitalizing on her idea the boss had pooh-poohed as a "secretary's notion." In her boss's absence, Tess (Griffith) uses her boss's name, her office, her home, even her clothes, to break into the rarefied New York mergers and acquisitions world. She even falls for the boss's boyfriend. Alas, the boss is a fast healer and comes home early. She finds an entry in her secretary's day planner, and it hits the fan. It's hard to believe this gem was written by the same writer who inflicted Meet Joe Black on us, but we can forgive him. Harrison Ford is at the top of his game as the boyfriend, but Joan Cusack almost walks away with this one, as usual. Joan is the best comedic supporting actress around. Weaver has one of the the greatest one-liners of all time. When asked if she's sure her boyfriend will propose, she says "We're in the same city now. I've indicated I'm receptive to an offer. I've cleared the month of June. And I am, after all, me." The go-go 80's may be long gone, along with the power suits, the BIG hair, the Perrier, and the bull market, but this hilarious and heartwarming comedy still works without relying on nostalgia or sentiment!
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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