Wednesday, November 22, 2006

[1980] NINE TO FIVE: It's a mainstreaming of feminist ideals into a really successful entertainment. Like Fame, it kind of globs a 70s aesthetic onto what would become 80s feel-good exuberance--both those movies began to define 80sness, in fact. And it's a women's revenge movie--another 70s staple--but the vengeance is either a fantasy (the set of scenes where Tomlin, Fonda and Parton all dream about killing Dabney Coleman) or a huge mistake. Like when Tomlin poisons Coleman, or Dolly ties him up, or Fonda ends up shooting at him, nobody's really effectively vindictive. The worst they can do is chain up Dabney in his own home--that's the extent to which he is stripped of his manhood. So it's half-assed as a feminist fable, is my argument. But it's so well-cast. Tomlin is the genuinely funny, acerbic one; Fonda is the stiff, formal, unintentionally funny one; Parton is Dolly Parton and that's the only role she ever played but she's trying her hardest here (it was her first movie.) And Dabney treads the line between masculine bluster and manly fear-of-women (misogyny is too harsh a word) really well, and the bit part characters are perfect--the office lush, the office snitch, the eccentric company president. The commentary on the 25th annual DVD is really entertaining, by the way (the "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot edition;" Jane Fonda has aged into your crazy spinster aunt, by the way, but you probably knew that already) and really gets across how much everyone involved enjoyed making this thing. And it really shows up on the screen, too--everybody's having such a good time and the film is just out to enjoy itself (watered-down feminism aside) and it's a pleasure to watch.

EDIT: Well--the commentary kind of degenerates into a string of silences and narrating-the-action after about an hour. But it's good for that hour.

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