With '9 to 5,' working women clocked in with Parton, Tomlin and Fonda

Critics' Picks : New Dvds

April 02, 2006

9 TO 5 / / 20th Century Fox / $19.98

Certainly you will remember the clothes. The hemlines, the shoes, the poofy shoulders, the poofy hair. The year, 1980, will come rushing back at you in the fashions worn by stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton, who clearly had a rollicking good time making this working-girl movie 25 years ago.

9 to 5 is the story of three women trapped in "the pink-collar ghetto" of a corporation. They form a reluctant alliance to get their "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigoted" boss, played by Dabney Coleman.

The typewriter-syncopated rhythm of Parton's Academy Award-nominated title song opens the movie, and recalls a time when women were just beginning to emerge from the typing pool and demand their place at the boardroom table.

Even if the clothing styles did not, the polemics in this movie survive, if only because the downtrodden were able to gain sweet revenge on their persecutor, and anybody who has ever been under the heel of an oppressor can identify with that satisfying feeling.

Otherwise, it is a supreme physical comedy that marked Parton's brilliant movie debut. Fonda is playing against type as a mousy divorcee and Tomlin, whose forte had been stand-up comedy, absolutely carries the movie. Coleman is downright sexy as the scoundrel.

Fonda, in her commentary on this anniversary edition, says that there was "an historic synchronicity" between the movie she produced, the feminist movement and the changes instituted by the women while their boss is otherwise entangled. The changes -- flex-time, job sharing, on-site day care, employee assistance programs and equal pay -- serve to remind us how far we have come.

The sting comes when the chairman of the board, while praising these progressive changes, says that the equal pay idea has got to go. All these years later, women earn only about 70 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. I guess we haven't come the whole way, baby.

Special features: The deleted scenes should have been deleted and aren't worth the time it takes to view them. But the commentary by producer Fonda, Tomlin, Coleman and Parton is revealing: Dolly is the only one who hasn't aged a day.

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[SUSAN REIMER]

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

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BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN / / Universal Home Video / / $29.95

Here's your chance to see for yourself if Brokeback Mountain really was robbed of the 2005 Best Picture Oscar. Get past the "gay cowboys" issue -- which, unfortunately, has proved impossible for some -- and what you have is a fairly conventional story about forbidden love, a theme that resonates at least as far back as Shakespeare's time (remember a little play called Romeo & Juliet?).

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal were both Oscar-nominated for their performances as ranch hands sent to the top of a lonely Wyoming mountain, where they get a little closer to one another than either had originally intended. Over the ensuing years, both men get married (Ledger to Michelle Williams, also nominated for an Oscar, Gyllenhaal to Anne Hathaway) and try to work around the fact that the only real love they'll ever know is between the two of them.

Extras include a feature on director Ang Lee, who won the Oscar for his work, and interviews with screenwriters Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, who also won Oscars. There's also a "Making of" feature.

The movie is available in both widescreen and full screen versions.

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[CHRIS KALTENBACH]

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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