Working Girl

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Working Girl Movie Poster Image
Sexed-up '80s corporate tale with stellar cast.
  • R
  • 1988
  • 115 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.

Violence
Sex

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.

Language

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

Consumerism
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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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... Continue reading
Adult Written byUnknown Agent November 17, 2015

Good

Some Nudity
Teen, 16 years old Written byTed F. January 7, 2015
Teen, 16 years old Written bycalliope1 November 25, 2014

ehhhh...

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 sce... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate