“Still Working 9 to 5”

In 1980, the film “9 to 5” was released in theaters at a pivotal time in the women’s movement. The story of three female employees who work together to overthrow their egotistical, sexist, bigot boss was a fantasy that resonated with many working women. The film is now considered a true American classic, and it still strikes a chord with many today.

Co-directors Camille Hardman and Gary Lane’s documentary “Still Working 9 to 5” celebrates the iconic film, reuniting original cast members Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Dabney Coleman, as well as many who worked behind the scenes to bring the comedy to life. It also explores workplace inequality and addresses the changes that have occurred over the last four decades, as well as what’s sadly remained the same.

You can still enjoy this documentary even if you’ve never seen “9 to 5,” but those familiar with the beloved film will get the full benefit of what it has to offer. It’s a joy to see the original screen trio of Fonda, Parton, and Tomlin discussing their experiences on the set and as friends, and all three are excellent storytellers. There are a lot of interesting tidbits about the movie, the theme song, the reception from the public, and the success of a comedy that was once called a “militant feminist film.”

It was a huge success at the time, a very funny film with which both men and women could identify, especially when it came to the injustice that was happening to the characters. It was a movie that was ahead of its time too, especially in its message that office workers (and in particular, women) should demand the respect they deserve. It inspired generations of employees to stand up for themselves, and its bold, feminist message carries on into present day.

Eventually the documentary shifts its focus and tries to encompass too much of the women’s movement by interviewing notable activists past and present, with archival footage and sound bites that take it all the way from feminism’s origins to 2017’s “Me Too.” It’s simply excessive for a small film like this.

It’s commendable that Hardman and Lane desire to educate viewers about the problems women still face at work like unequal pay and sexual harassment, but the documentary stumbles when it sprawls away from its more limited — and most enjoyable — angle.

“Still Working 9 to 5” isn’t an expertly crafted nor particularly well directed talking head documentary, and it has an ordinary quality and amateurish feel. The subject matter is engaging and many of those interviewed have equally interesting stories to tell.

The documentary’s message about equality for women in the workplace and in society as a whole is relevant, mirroring the fictional film it celebrates. It’s likely to make you want to watch or re-watch “9 to 5” as soon as possible, while also creating a spark to get involved in political and social action for women’s equality.

By: Louisa Moore

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