There’s little doubt that the best film Colin Higgins was ever associated with was Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude (1971), for which he wrote the screenplay. His directorial work—amounting to three films—lacked the warmth and precision of that film, and had a marked tendency to topple over into uncomfortably broad and mechanical slapstick. His 1980 comedy Nine to Five is no exception. Still, this satisfying tale of three women getting their revenge on their miserable boss boasts enough compensations to make up for its less successful moments. After all, it has an impossibly catchy theme song, three talented leads—Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton—and a perfectly smarmy villain—Dabney Coleman—and it’s the sort of story that’s inherently pleasing to anyone who’s ever had a boss in need of a serious comeuppance. This last, of course, means its audience amounts to about 99 percent of humankind. Seen again nearly 30 years after the fact, it actually seems better than ever—which may be as much a comment on the state of comedy films today as it is on the quality of Nine to Five.
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