Blu-ray Review: 9 to 5 - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Twilight Time brings one of the true box office and pop culture phenomenons of the early '80s to Blu-ray. 9 to 5 was the second-highest gross film of 1980 (The Empire Strikes Back was first), hauling in $103 million. If that sounds kinda meh by today's standards, consider that adjusted for inflation the figure translates to $330 million. The film, buoyed by its trifecta of female stars, positively impacted mainstream views of sexism in the workplace. Of course it did so with a boisterous sense of humor. The film's late writer-director Colin Higgins (1941-1988) was no stranger to comedy, having previously helmed the Chevy Chase hit Foul Play (Higgins also wrote Harold and Maude and Silver Streak).

Truth be told, some of 9 to 5's silliest moments haven't aged terribly well. The stars carry the film. Lily Tomlin is Violet, a longtime, long-suffering employee of Consolidated Companies. She's become desensitized to the rampant sexist ways of boss Franklin Hart, Jr. (Dabney Coleman). Dolly Parton made her film debut here as Doralee, Franklin's secretary. Everyone in the office incorrectly assumes Doralee and Franklin are an item, leaving her the unwitting target of negative treatment. Judy (Jane Fonda) is the new gal on the scene, a dowdily-dressed woman who joins Violet (snubbed for a promotion in favor of a man) and Doralee in their revenge-against-the-boss scenario. 
rsz_9_to_5_booklet.png The farcical way in which Franklin is accidentally poisoned and subsequently held in captivity by the ladies is broad, to say the least. For example, the sight of Tomlin wheeling around a dead body in a hospital while posing as a doctor is cartoonish. With antics like that it's no surprise 9 to 5 was popular among children back in the day—children who, it should be said, couldn't have appreciated the film's 'female empowerment' message. Much of 9 to 5 plays like a sitcom (in fact, there was a TV adaptation that ran for several seasons), but the excellent timing and chemistry of Fonda, Parton, and Tomlin manage to save the day. Coleman is excellent as well as the sleazy male chauvinist pig boss.

What has aged beautifully is Dolly Parton's Billboard number one hit title song (it topped both the Hot 100 and Country charts). Parton received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song (losing to the unbeatable "Fame").

As for TT's Blu-ray, the high-def transfer offers a clean presentation of Reynaldo Villalobos' rather drab cinematography. The film looks its age, but in a good way—the muted color palette and generally soft focus, moderately grainy look is inherent in Villalobos' work. There's a choice, both options are lossless, for audio: DTS-HD MA 1.0 or 2.0. Both tracks are crystal clear, with the mono coming out just a little ahead in terms of overall sonic punch.

There are lots of special features ported over from a previous DVD release, but the notable new feature is an audio commentary by co-screenwriter Patricia Resnick, with film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman. There's also a previously available commentary featuring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton, and producer Bruce Gilbert. Standard definition features include a pair of featurettes, interviews with Parton and Tomlin, deleted scenes (23 minutes' worth!), a gag reel, animation reel, and a karaoke feature for the title tune. Also new to disc is the DTS-HD MA 2.0 presentation of Charles Fox's score.

The passage of 36 years has dulled the satirical edge of 9 to 5 somewhat, but as a time capsule piece the film remains worthwhile viewing. Limited to 3,000 units, anyone wishing to add 9 to 5 to their collection needs to visit distributor Screen Archives or the official Twilight Time website.


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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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