the Thinking Chicks Guide to Movies

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Working Girl (1988)

Reviewed on 2011 July 23

This is an ultimate ’80s movie, with lots of greed and neon eyeshadow and BEEEEG hair. It’s also a lot of fun and has appealing chemistry between Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford.

Tess McGill (Griffith) is a Staten Island secretary, trying hard to get out of the pool and get ahead in the rat race. She got her degree in night school and is sharp, reading everything she can get her hands on and reading between the lines of news and trashy entertainment articles in ways her bosses don’t, but none of that seems to help her. Despite her hard work her porcine bosses just see her as a pretty, fluffy bit of entertainment and her idiot boyfriend Mick (Alec Baldwin) doesn’t see why she takes it so seriously.

Tess ultimately winds up working for Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), a real piece of work in a power suit and strand of pearls. Initially, Tess is delighted, as Katharine coos that their working relationship is a two-way street, and that she’ll help Tess succeed. Yeah, right. Tess finds out that Katharine stole one of her plum ideas and decides to throw the rules out the window. She is going to run around Katherine to protect her own idea, and while she feels like she’s risking her career to do this, she’s not getting anywhere with the Katharines of the world blocking her progress.

I always get a kick out of this movie. The plot is a little far-fetched but I can buy it for the sake of argument, largely because director Mike Nichols completely conveys how Tess has just had it. I also got a kick out of the scenes with Tess and her best friend Cyn, played with a lot of wit and audible make-up by Joan Cusack. The thing that makes it really resonate is that even though she did some bold if not slightly shady moves, Tess is sympathetic because she just wanted to protect her own idea, not step on anybody else. She tried getting ahead following conventional routes, even stripping off her excess jewelry in the ladies’ room when the prissy Katharine suggested she tone it down, and when that failed she didn’t just think outside the box, she punched a hole in the thing. Great theme song too.

Three chocolate morsels.


morsel morsel morsel

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