The lovely vestige of current-day pop culture, American Idol, celebrated an American icon with its theme this week—Dolly Parton. And as I watched each contestant respectively butcher or breathe life into songs from her remarkable songbook, culminating the next night with their group number, “9 to 5,” my mind went reeling back to one of the best films ever made… “9 to 5,” of course.
Now this movie is known for its humor, well-played by the lesbian comedienne Lily Tomlin, respected actress Jane Fonda, and the singer-turned-actress Dolly Parton. With such a cast, where can you go wrong?
Well…nowhere! These three women conquer the working world, and their boss, with the assistance of dream sequences, pot-smoking, and cartoon rabbits. It is hard to imagine at what point this movie isn’t hilarious.
Now, while it’s easy to dismiss a movie like this as kitsch, it really deserves its recognition as an Oscar-nominated film (granted, for Dolly Parton’s wonder song that opens the film.)
The film really is a blend of different types of comedy. There is the satire in the dream sequences: Lily Tomlin envisions poisoning the boss as a Snow White, Dolly Parton ropes him like a bull in a truly cowboy-manner, and Jane Fonda is very femme fatale as a spy hunting a boss-man.
But then there is situational comedy: Lily Tomlin getting pulled over by the police while returning a stolen corpse to the hospital. Jane Fonda shooting at the boss with Dolly’s pistol.
And finally there is irony: The boss’ wife finding her husband in bondage, while he simply tosses it up to exercising. Jane Fonda having to reject the husband she’s separated from, all so she can continue to keep the boss prisoner.
And honestly, its just funny when poison is confused for artificial sweetener. The movie even has drunk secretaries, old men playing a Mr. Magoo role, and black women quipping in their diva-licious manner.
Beyond that, the movie now has achieved a cult-status. It’s the movie of gay men and feminists alike. It also captures the late ‘70’s perfectly. It is Mary Tyler Moore in feature-film form. It is big glasses, pastel color, and everything else that typifies that era.
And really, think about it. What’s better than Lily Tomlin.
Or Jane Fonda.
(Btw: Recent developments mean that this movie will be reinterpreted for BROADWAY. With music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, and a cast that includes the Lovely Allison Janney, this will prove to be spectacular.)