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9 TO 5

Every time I watch 9 TO 5 ($25), it takes me weeks to get that darn Dolly Parton theme song out of my head. Heck, it’s rattling through my brain, even as I write this review. The first time I saw 9 TO 5, it was just shortly after the film opened and I thought the film was pretty hilarious. Twenty something years later, this office comedy is still pretty dang funny.

9 TO 5 stars Jane Fonda as Judy Bernly, a recently divorced woman, who goes to work in the office of a big multi national conglomerate. Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin) is Judy's supervisor, who does much of the work that keeps the office running, but gets no credit because her boss is a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot who hogs all the glory for himself. Not only does Franklin Hart Jr. (Dabney Coleman) steal the limelight, he is also a petty tyrant, who runs the office as if it were a labor camp. Working up close and personal with Hart is his buxom secretary Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton), whom everyone in the office thinks is sleeping with her boss- thanks to Hart, who is spreading that false rumor. Unforeseen circumstances then arise that allow Judy, Violet and Doralee to take Mr. Hart down a couple of pegs, and at the same time they have the opportunity to improve office conditions by changing many of Hart’s oppressive policies.

While 9 TO 5 is a comedy, the film also tries to make a statement about equality in the workplace. The combination of comedy with "the message" isn’t always successful, but the film works as a whole because of its three female leads. Fonda has seldom been funnier, Tomlin's career is comedy and Parton brings her own brand of homespun charm to the table. But then again, there's Coleman, who seems to have been born to play this particular breed of jackass. The cast of 9 TO 5 also includes Sterling Hayden, Elizabeth Wilson, Henry Jones, Lawrence Pressman and Marian Mercer.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made 9 TO 5 in a 16:9 enhanced wide screen presentation that frames the film at 1.85:1. I was rather impressed at how good 9 TO 5 looks on DVD. Sure, it doesn't look like a new movie, but boy, for an inexpensive 1980 release 9 TO 5 shines. The picture is usually clean, bright and appealing. Sharpness and detail aren't what would find on a new movie, but this is attributable to the film's cinematography and not a flaw in the transfer. In fact, the transfer is so good, that the image still manages to "pop" in places, despite slight softness in the photography. Colors are saturated at a very natural level and the flesh tones are attractive. There are no problems with chroma noise or bleeding. Blacks appear accurate and shadow detail is decent, although it never needs to be anything more than that. The film element is in very good shape, with only minor blemish showing up from time to time. Some film grain is noticeable, especially in sequences that contain opticals, but it is never objectionable. Digital compression artifacts remain out of sight.

9 TO 5 has a Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack that has been re-mixed into standard surround for this release. The sound doesn't really ever get too far away for the movie's monaural origins, but spreading the sound to the various channels gives the track the illusion of having more depth. Occasionally, the new mix gives sound effects directional placement, but 9 TO 5 still remains a dialogue driven comedy. Speaking of the dialogue, it is crisp and fully intelligible. The new mix doesn't up the ante on musical fidelity, with Parton's Oscar nominated theme song sounding much as it would on the radio. There is no distortion on the track, although a mild hiss can be heard at higher volume levels. Kudos to Fox for producing something more sonically engaging that flat monaural. By the way, the original English monaural soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as is a French mono track. Subtitles are provided in English, Spanish and French. The basic interactive menus give one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, plus a few extras. A theatrical trailer for 9 TO 5 is included on the DVD, as are bonus trailers for other feminine themed Fox DVD titles. A brief still gallery closes out the extras.

9 TO 5 is a lot of fun and the DVD looks a whole lot better than I expected it would. Fans can't go wrong by picking up a copy.

9 TO 5 

9 to 5


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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