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Hart: I'm not such a bad guy!
Judy: You're a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.
Hart: So I have a few faults; who doesn't?
When her husband leaves her for his secretary, Judy (Fonda) starts a new job at Consolidated Companies. She is befriend by Violet (Tomlin), an office manager who advises her on the best way to navigate through daily office life. The office is run by Franklin Hart (Coleman), their vulgar and somewhat incompetent boss. Hart spends a good chunk of his time hitting on his unreceptive secretary Doralee (Parton) and spreading rumors that they are sleeping together. As a result, she is ostracized by her co-workers.
After Violet is denied a deserved promotion, she, Judy and Doralee begin bonding over their hatred of their boss, sharing with one another their personal fantasies of bringing him down. Hilarity Ensues when Violet accidentally puts rat poison into Hart's coffee; he finds out about it and tries to use the knowledge to blackmail Doralee, prompting the three women to kidnap him and hold him prisoner in his own house until they can figure out a way to fix the situation. In the meantime, they have to conceal Hart's absence and keep the office running as though he were still present...
Upon release, the film was incredibly successful and was the highest grossing comedy of that year. The movie was adapted into a television series that sporadically ran for five seasons. In 2008, it was also turned into a stage musical
This film has examples of:
- Actor Allusion: Doralee is said in the epilogue to have quit the company and started a career as a country music singer.
- The Alcoholic: Margaret, though she goes into rehab later.
- Arc Words: "You're a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot!"
- Ate the Spoon
- Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults: Played with. Everyone in the office knows that Roz hangs out in bathroom stalls to hear what the women gossip about in order to report it back to Hart. To make sure she isn't listening to their conversations, they check for her shoes. Later on, Roz has found a way around this by lifting her feet of the floor. She is able to report back to Hart that the main characters accidentally put poison in his coffee.
- Blackmail: Each side against the other.
- Bound and Gagged
- Corrupt Corporate Executive. Hart, big time.
- Deadpan Snarker. Violet.
Violet: We're going to need a locker for the hat.
Violet: Thank you, Roz. I know just where to stick it.
- Disney Creatures of the Farce: Violet's Imagine Spot (complete with Disney Villain Death)
- Foreshadowing: Parts of the trio's imagination sequences come true the following two days after they have them. On the following day (after the sequences) Violet puts rat poison (by accident) in Hart's coffee (like she did in her sequence, but without the imaginary animals). Then on the second day Doralee ties him up with telephone cords and a scarf (like in the second part of her sequence). Then (on the same day) after freeing Hart (from being tied up by Doralee) Judy shoots (at) him with Doralee's gun (you guessed it, like in her sequence).
- Hey, It's That Guy!: The disabled secretary in a wheelchair near the end is Les Jankey, who played Gushie in Tales of the Gold Monkey.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The basis of Judy's Imagine Spot.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Both Violet and Doralee are this to Hart, but especially Violet.
- Imagine Spot: While smoking Violet's son's pot one night, the ladies imagine how they'd like to get back at Mr. Hart. Each time, we get the Arc Words.
Rodeo announcer: Let's see how long it takes her to rope this sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot!
- Violet is in a Disneyesque scene and is Snow White-turned-psycho (see above) and poisons his coffee. This time, Mr. Hart says the line.
Mr. Hart: But why? Why?
Violet: Why do you think?
Mr. Hart: 'Cause I'm a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot?
Violet: Bingo! (ejects him out his office window)
Violet: What are you, a man or a mouse? (Beat) Or a woman or a wouse? (giggles)
Janitor: Hey, Vera. We've got another stiff in the john.
Hart: ... shit.
- When each of the girls realizes the corpse in the trunk is not Mr. Hart.
- Later, Hart gets off another good one:
Hart: ... Brazil?!
- Finally, the last lines of the film, by Roz, literally means in French "Holy shit!"
- Pointy-Haired Boss: Evil variety.
- Precision F-Strike: Sweet-as-sugar Doralee's suggestion what to do with Hart:
I say we get us a couple wranglers to go upstairs and beat the shit out of him.
- The final words of the film, spoken by Roz: "Ho-ly merde!"
- Reassigned to Antarctica: The rare unwanted reassignment that's actually supposed to be a reward. Mr. Hart so impresses his superiors that he's given a promotion, to the Brazilian branch of the company in the Amazon jungle.
- Recycled: the Series: The TV show.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: The forest animals that appear in Violet's fantasy vision of doing in Mr. Hart (where she is dressed like Snow White).
- Rhythm Typewriter: For the title song.
- actually averted in the song. The 'typewriter sound' is actually Dolly Parton's fingernails on a table.
- Searching the Stalls: During Judy's Imagine Spot.
- Sexual Harassment Is Ok When It's Female On Male: Doralee imagines giving Mr. Hart a taste of his own medicine in her own fantasy. The scene is Played for Laughs.
- Except for the fact Hart is roasting on a spit at the end of the fantasy.
- Sexy Secretary: Again, we're talking about Dolly Parton here.
- Stealing From the Till: The ladies use this as blackmail.
- Stereo Fibbing: When the ladies are pulled over by the traffic cop, with someone's dead body in the trunk.
- The Stoner: Violet's son. Later, the gals have an "old-fashioned ladies' pot party."
- Thematic Theme Tune: Parton's title song, which became a huge hit, and nominated for an Academy Award.
- Typecasting: This was the only sort of role Dabney Coleman could ever get after 9 to 5.
- War Games and Short Time say hello.
- And just how were they different than this role?
- Unwilling Suspension: When Mr. Hart is locked in his room.
- Watch It Stoned: Especially when they have a "good old-fashioned ladies pot party."
- Where Are They Now? Epilogue
- White Collar Worker