Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Dabney Coleman, Sterling Hayden, Elizabeth Wilson, Henry Jones, Lawrence Pressman
Colin Higgins, Patricia Resnick (screenplay and story)
The power behind the throne.
Three working women, one a hyperefficient office manager, one a frazzled divorce, and the last a sexy executive secretary, combine forces to take revenge against their sleazy, sexist boss.
English Dolby 2.0
Runtime: 110 min.
Release Date: 4/4/2006
• Audio Commentary with Producer Bruce Gilbert and Actors Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda And Dolly Parton
• “Nine @ 25” Featurette
• 10 Deleted Scenes
• “Remembering Colin Higgins” Featurette
• Gag Reel
• “Nine to Five Karaoke”
PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.
9 To 5: Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical Bigot Edition (1980)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 28, 2006)
One of the drawbacks related to movie reviewing stems from the permanence of one’s opinions. When I toss out my thoughts about a film, that’s that. If I change my mind at a later time, it doesn’t really matter, for the initial impact remains out there for all to see. Sure, as an on-line reviewer, I can always go back and eradicate the original article, but since many people already read that piece, it won’t alter their memories of my impressions.
While I don’t often radically change my thoughts about films, new opinions do surface at times. Usually these variations veer in the negative direction. On occasion I’ll like something I used to frown upon, but these examples are somewhat rare. After all, if I didn’t care for a movie in the first place, why would I watch it again?
This means it’s much more common for me to turn against something I once enjoyed. Possibly the oldest personal example of such as case related to the 1980 comedy Nine to Five. I checked out this movie as a kid and thought it seemed very entertaining. As I recall, I still liked it through a second viewing. However, once I took it in a third time, I found the program to seem much more problematic and disenchanting.
Why did this occur? Part of it may relate to excessive exposure to the material, but I think some of it happened due to a maturing eye. As I got older, I was better able to discern the flaws in the piece. As a 13-year-old, the thinness of the movie eluded me, but when I grew some, I saw more clearly just how big a load of tripe it really was.
Nine to Five stands as a very thin feminist fantasy. At the start of the film, we meet Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda), a recently separated woman who has to enter the job market for the first time in years. She possesses few strong skills, but her secretarial abilities are sufficient enough to nab such a job.
As she enters her new office, she finds how badly the higher-ups dump on the secretaries, and she sees examples of the “glass ceiling” through the experiences of Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin), a long-suffering co-worker. Though Judy’s new friend clearly has the skills for managerial work, the higher-ups prefer their private club, to which no one without a college degree may enter.
After a while, another woman enters their little club. Buxom Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton) works in a cheerfully oblivious state as the secretary for the obnoxious Franklin Hart (Dabney Coleman). He gleefully relates his alleged sexual episodes with Doralee, none of which actually occurred. Her co-workers ostracize her until they learn the truth.
Ultimately, Hart becomes their common enemy, but the three women only take action against him due to a misunderstanding. Violet believes that she accidentally poisoned Hart, and a series of comic mishaps ensue. Eventually they discover that he’s still alive, but he’s learned of his near-death experience. Because Hart threatens harsh repercussions against them, they kidnap him and keep him prisoner while they attempt to prove his involvement in some sleazy dealings.
All the while, they maintain the ruse that he’s still at the office, while they actually run things in his place. Unsurprisingly, efficiency and happiness all escalate while they give the workplace a more homey and warm feel. Will they be able to keep up their dangerous game long enough to enact real changes? No comment, but I doubt the ending will surprise many.
What did surprise me, however, was how dated and sexist Nine to Five appeared. It certainly hasn’t aged well. While I’m sure that gender-related workplace inequities still exist, as framed here the concept now seems fairly quaint, and I doubt that a similar story set in the current era would go anywhere.
Still, I suppose I can’t fault the movie too strongly for being a product of its time. What bothered me more was the anti-male manner in which the story was told. Nearly all of the men behaved in fairly unpleasant ways, and none were allowed to develop any form of character. Obviously Hart stood as the poster child for the nasty boys, but we also saw other cads like Judy’s ex. The closest thing to a likable man came from Doralee’s husband, but even he seemed as though he was rather laissez faire and unwilling to challenge the status quo; he just wanted to relax and get it on with those enormous jugs.
The film’s cartoony air required that Hart take on almost impossibly cruel and evil overtones. At no point did he seem recognizable as a human being. Coleman prospered in roles such as this, and he created a reasonably entertaining meanness for Hart, but the part remained so one-dimensional that it lacked much use.
As for our leads, they all performed acceptably well within the constraints of the story. Fonda, seemed somewhat out of place as the meek former housewife, but she brought out some positives at times. Parton wasn’t in the same league as an actress, and her lack of chops showed, but her earthy warmth helped cover some of these flaws. Of the three, Tomlin was most clearly in her own element, which was why Violet offered the most vivid personality of the bunch.
However, I found it hard to really like any of them because the movie tried so hard to make me like them. The lop-sided story forced their case so heavily that it almost began to backfire; I started to turn against the female characters because I tired of the exceptionally positive manner in which they were portrayed. Even their foibles - such as the secretaries’ early condemnation of Doralee - all were really the fault of a man, and this lack of depth truly harmed the film.
All of the man bashing really got old quickly, and these tendencies reached their nadir during some fantasy sequences. One at a time, we saw the dreams of our three leads as they conjured the ways in which they’d like to get back at Hart. These sequences seemed to be exceptionally - and nauseatingly - cute and pandering, and they added absolutely nothing to the film. Frankly, they were tedious and crude.
As a whole, I’d say the same sentiments went for Nine to Five. On a superficial level, the movie might offer a little escapist entertainment. However, I genuinely disliked the film’s tendency to simplify the sexes and make men the root of all evil. The tale lacked any form of depth, and the humor was asinine and drab. I may once have enjoyed Nine to Five, but those days are long gone.
The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C/ Bonus C
Nine to Five appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the picture has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. An erratic transfer, this movie was watchable but unspectacular.
Sharpness looked decent. The movie came across as a bit flat and lifeless, and some mild softness cropped up at times. Still, definition was acceptable most of the time. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge enhancement. Source flaws were minimal. I noticed a little grain, and a few marks also appeared. Usually the movie seemed clean, though.
Colors usually appeared to be acceptably accurate, but they also came across as somewhat drab and lackluster. They rarely betrayed very positive intensity, but they also didn’t come across as truly weak. Black levels maintained somewhat muddy tones, and shadow detail was a bit problematic. The movie generally seemed too dense. Low-light shots tended to be murky, and even scenes without particularly dark elements could be tough to discern. For example, a snippet with a black cleaning woman at the hospital rendered her face totally impossible to see. This was a consistently mediocre transfer harmed mostly by the murkiness.
The Dolby Stereo 2.0 soundtrack of Nine to Five was acceptable. This piece remixed the original monaural audio, and it did so with restricted results. The soundfield remained fairly mono in nature through most of the film. Music spread to the front side and the rear channels, but it still stayed centered to a large degree. Some examples of effects also cropped up from the sides and the surrounds, but these seemed to unremarkable. The new track opened up the image, but don’t expect anything exceptional.
Audio quality appeared to be adequate as well. The film suffered from a lot of obvious dubbing, and speech often seemed distant and thin. The lines usually suffered from some hollow tones. Effects lived in the realm of the bland. Those elements lacked many signs of depth or range. Music was also lackluster, as the songs and score sounded somewhat drab and flat. The mix offered few strengths and seemed pretty mediocre.
How did the picture and audio compare to the presentation of the original 2001 DVD? Unfortunately, I thought both were superior in the original release. In terms of picture, the new transfer was cleaner and zapped much of the heavy grain seen in the 2001 edition. However, it was less distinctive and also seemed darker and murkier. As for the audio, the soundfield was a bit more restricted, and the quality of the audio appeared flatter and less vibrant. The prior soundtrack wasn’t exceptional, but it boasted better definition and vivacity. I preferred the presentation on the 2001 DVD.
One big change between the two DVDs relates to their extras. The old release came with very little, while the new set includes some nice pieces. Entitled the “Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical Bigot Edition”, the big attraction is an audio commentary with producer Bruce Gilbert and actors Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton. All four we recorded during the same session, though it seemed obvious they didn’t sit in the same room; this was “conference call” format, though it was clearly running and screen-specific.
Most of the material revolves around anecdotes. We get stories from the shoot along with a few basics about the cast, director Colin Higgins, and filming specific scenes. Patron tosses out some info about the title song, and she also stumps hard to get the others to make a sequel.
The commentary starts pretty well but fades quickly. After a good beginning, it degenerates into little more than a viewing session. The women laugh at the movie and don’t tell us much.
The unstructured format causes some other annoyances at well. Parton and Fonda dominate, so the others – especially Gilbert – get buried. For instance, at one point he tries hard to tell us how Dabney Coleman almost didn’t get his part, but after a couple of attempts thwarted by the rambunctious women, he doesn’t bother to try any longer. (Gilbert manages to finally tale his story toward the end of the movie.) I like the idea of this commentary, and it offers sporadic fun, but it proves too frustrating to be terribly valuable.
Next we go to a featurette entitled Nine @ 25. This 24-minute and 37-second show includes movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We hear from Fonda, Tomlin, Parton, Gilbert, co-screenwriter Patricia Resnick, and actors Dabney Coleman and Elizabeth Wilson. The program covers the flick’s story and development, casting and the actors’ work, and reactions to the movie.
After such a problematic commentary, I hoped that “25” would offer a more informative effort. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fare any better than the commentary. Way too many film clips appear, and they fill a lot of the running time. Many of the remarks simply talk about what a wonderful flick and experience it was. A few decent tidbits emerge but there’s not much useful material on display.
10 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 11 minutes, 28 seconds. The longest one shows Hart’s attempt to escape his imprisonment, and we also check out a lot of material connected to how the secretaries ran the office in Hart’s absence. Otherwise we find minor snippets. We see a little more behind the scenes at the office with some tertiary characters, and the fantasy segments run longer; Violet’s gets the biggest boost. Nothing very interesting appears here, but fans will be happy to see these pieces.
A featurette called Remembering Colin Higgins lasts four minutes, 43 seconds. We hear from Fonda, Parton, Tomlin and Gilbert. Director Higgins himself also appears via archival clips. They talk about Higgins and his work. “Remembering” tells us little and just praises Higgins. You won’t learn much about the man or his career.
Next we get a five-minute and 49-second Gag Reel. It offers the usual collection of goofs and giggles.
In addition to the movie’s trailer, we get Nine to Five Karaoke. The three-minute and 28-second clip provides exactly what you’d expect. Some movie scenes run along with the title tune’s music. We follow along with lyrics onscreen and can sing if so desired. I can’t say this does anything for me.
Does this new DVD drop anything from its predecessor? Not much. We only lose a five image “Still Gallery” and a few ads for other Fox releases.
Nine to Five remains a crude and silly fantasy that seems dated and stupid. The film tries to feature nastiness in a comic vein, but it falls flat at all times. The DVD offers mediocre picture and sound plus a set of extras that do little to shed light on the production.
When compared to the prior DVD, I thought the old one offered better picture and audio. This one includes more supplements, but these seem lackluster across the board. I think fans should probably stick with the previous disc.
To rate this film, visit the original review of 9 To 5