Movie: 9 to 5
Release Date: December 19, 1980
Director: Colin Higgins
Starring: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Dabney Coleman, Elizabeth Wilson, Sterling Hayden.
Tag Lines: “Getting even is a full-time job.”
“They’re showing the Boss who’s the BOSS!”
“Which would you rather punch? The clock or your boss?”
“The power behind the throne.”
Relevance: One Saturday morning in 1982 around the age of eleven, I was sitting in the kitchen eating my Lucky Charms when I heard uproarious laughter coming from the living room. Always a curious child not wanting to be left out of anything, I picked up my bowl of pure sugar and went in to see what all the fuss was about. After propping myself up on the couch, careful not to spill any milk or my mother would kill me, I asked my dad, the source of the laughter, what was so funny. The only thing he was able to get out between laughs was, “This movie on HBO.” I sat and watched a bit with him while I slurped up the rest of the milk from the bowl, how I always finished eating my cereal. Reaching for the HBO Guide, I then read what movie was making my dad cry from laughing. ‘9 to 5’ was the culprit.
Released in December of 1980, ‘9 to 5,’ a comedy directed by Colin Higgins, was a huge box office success, eventually becoming the second highest grossing film that year, second only to a Star Wars sequel (which happens to be tomorrow’s movie on this blog). Audiences flocked to see the film despite getting only lukewarm reviews from critics. Audiences wanted to laugh and ‘9 to 5’ gave them plenty of laughs. The movie was also the film debut for Dolly Parton, who was already a popular country and western singer. She went on to receive Golden Globe nominations for her performance as well as the theme song from the movie that she both wrote and performed. That song also received an Academy Award nomination as well as many Grammy Awards and sat on top of the United States Billboard chart for two non-consecutive weeks in 1981. ‘9 to 5’ both movie and song were pop culture gold.
Although I did not see the movie in theaters, I did watch it incessantly on HBO, as did the rest of my family. Along with another Lily Tomlin movie (see 153. The Incredible Shrinking Woman), ‘9 to 5’ seemed to play all of the time and my entire family always watched it. We just adored it. From that first glimpse with my dad to a full on viewing with my mom later that night, it was a movie that just never got old for us. We loved it and it made every single one of us laugh just as hard as my dad was laughing that first time. My mom especially cackled every time that she watched it. She loved the three actresses and their antics on screen made her tiny little body cavort. The film was one that got recorded on a blank VHS tape so that we didn’t have to wait for HBO to air it. We could watch it whenever we wanted, and we most certainly did.
As I got older, ‘9 to 5’ was always a movie I returned to. For one thing, it gave me and my friends at college many nights of laughter. I owned it on VHS and we would watch the movie, with or without alcohol, having the best time laughing at the hijinks on the screen. It then became a movie that me and a few theater friends would reference and quote all of the time to try and make each other laugh. The referencing and quoting eventually bled out into my entire life, especially work. When there was a new employee at my job, I always said, “Lady, you’re gonna hate it here.” If my boss ever asked if I saw the project he left on my desk, I would say, “Yes. I tore right through it.” If a co-worker handed me a piece of paper, I always said, “I know just where to stick it.” Not to mention anytime anyone referenced drinking, I simply retorted “Atta girl.” I am surprised I lasted twenty-five years at that place.
A few years ago, I watched the movie with four other actors as we were starting to prepare for rehearsals for “9 to 5: The Musical.” The Broadway show was not one of my favorites, although it does have some good songs in it. The character I portrayed was not even in the movie, but I was still excited to be a part of something related to this glorious movie. Watching the movie with those actors was not the last time I watched it. I of course now own the DVD and have watched it hundreds, if not thousands of times in my lifetime. It is a pure catalyst for injecting happiness into my life and it most definitely will be watched hundreds more times before I leave this planet.
Today’s Thoughts: “Hey, Vera. We’ve got another stiff in the john.”
I guess it was a week of double features on my blog as I went from two back to back movies from Sally Field to two back to back movies from Dolly Parton (see 13. Steel Magnolias for yesterday’s). Who would have guessed that the singer of “Jolene” would have not one, but two movies in my top twenty favorite films of all time. ‘9 to 5’ is simply pure joy and no matter how many times I watch it, I smile and laugh like it was the first time.
And that smile appears as soon as I hear those first chords of Dolly Parton’s song “Nine to Five.” I am no fan of country music, but that pop song is just perfection, as is the movie attached to it. The direction, story, screenplay and cast are what I wish, want and hope for in every single movie that I watch. I mean, this is a funny, funny movie. Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Dabney Coleman and the rest of the ensemble play these quirky, silly characters to the best of their abilities. There are numerous iconic moments in the film and there is no way I can pick out a favorite, but Dolly Parton leaning out from behind the car saying, “Violet, honey, would you come over here for a second” will never not make me guffaw.
‘9 to 5’ is a classic comedy that should be celebrated for many reasons. For one thing, it shows three strong, independent thinking women can bring audiences to a theater, and in 1980, that was quite an accomplishment. Secondly, it was way ahead of its time in the #metoo movement. Although it takes a comedic look at sexual harassment, it still makes its point crystal clear. Third, its just freaking hilarious. If you have never seen ‘9 to 5,’ you simply haven’t lived. Do yourself a favor and check it out as soon as possible.
Awards: Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “Nine to Five,” Dolly Parton (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Dolly Parton (nomination). Golden Globe for New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture – Female, Dolly Parton (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “Nine to Five,” Dolly Parton (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen, Colin Higgins, Patricia Resnick (nomination).
Ways to Watch: Hulu, Sling TV, Starz, Cinemax, Philo, Vudu, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, DVD Availability.