1988, Movies

Working Girl (1988, Mike Nichols)

This is a pretty funny romantic comedy with ridiculous hair (and some insane eye shadow) and more craft than I would have ever guessed when I was younger.

When I was younger I looked at movies like this and figured there was no way they could be good. Some of this was because of systemic sexism, sure, but also being a teenage boy.

I was just listening to a podcast and someone mentioned that you’re much more forgiving of comedy plots than dramas, if you’re laughing. And that’s true of this movie: there are enough laughs to ignore the whole thing about what these people do: are they brokers? do they just arrange deals for companies without having any kind of prior relationship? Jenn looked into this and it seems like nobody is bothered by what these people do for a living, which we don’t understand. Like, if they’re bankers, shouldn’t someone be assigned to the account other than just Sigourney Weaver’s character? And why bring in another company? Anyway…

It’s funny but it’s also well done in other ways. Particularly, I like what I’m calling “Chekov’s purse” – Melanie Griffith’s character can never remember her handbag and that becomes an important plot point. Griffith is well cast as someone who looks and sounds like someone who would not be taken seriously. And Weaver is ridiculous in a role that might otherwise feel regressive. (I mean, it might be anyway, but she’s really good.) For is also good playing slightly against type. (He might be a jerk, but turns out he’s not! Wait! That might actually be his type. Shit…)

I rated this 4/10 when I was a teen having not watched more than a few minutes of it. (I don’t remember any of it but I can’t imagine I rated it without at least watching a few minutes.) And that’s really illustrative of how I’ve grown up, I (like to) think. This movie is well done as a romantic comedy. Yes, I can’t really make sense of the larger plot elements – the specifics make sense – but it entertains and it is well made if you ignore the plot holes. And the message feels sadly still somewhat relevant (at least in finance).

7/10

PS Jenn made a great point about the final shot: it is a testmanent to how low the standards were for women on Wall St. in the ’80s that success is an office in a giant building in which you really don’t have any power.

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