Working Girl

Working Girl. 20th Century Fox 1986.
Working Girl. 20th Century Fox 1986.

Before watching the movie:

I was vaguely aware of this movie before I saw a mashup parody (with Die Hard, I think?) on Bob’s Burgers. The mashup was so mixed I learned very little, except that it’s more popular than I thought. And I wasn’t sure that it was about office politics.

What it is, or at least what it’s billed as, is a romantic comedy with Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford as the lead couple, as well as a stolen idea and a stolen identity.

After watching the movie:

Tess McGill works as a secretary trying to break into business. Having reacted explosively to yet another sleazy sexist boss, her assignment to financial consultant Katharine Parker is probably her last chance. Katharine encourages Tess to share any ideas so Katharine can help her get noticed, and soon Tess does have an idea for a client, and suggests it to Katharine. Katharine likes the idea, but later tells her it was a non-starter. Then when Katharine breaks her leg on a skiing trip, Tess discovers that Katharine was about to present it to the client as her own. In order to save her idea and get ahead in business, Tess takes advantage of Katharine’s three weeks stuck in an out of state hospital to use Katharine’s invitation to a party the point man for the client, Jack Trainer, will be attending in order to introduce herself as the consultant filling in for Katharine, and ends up in the bed of a mystery man who turns out to have been Jack. After the pitch meeting, Jack lets Tess know that his team liked the idea, they’ll be working very closely to build a plan to implement it, and nothing happened last night. Though they both would like something to happen.

I have no problem with the casting except that Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver are billed above the protagonist whose journey was about getting noticed. I thought Weaver was the lead and Griffith the boss. However, I don’t have much to say about Griffith’s performance. I’m not sure I’ve seen Weaver outside sci-fi movies (assuming Ghostbusters counts as sci-fi), but she’s an insidious backstabber from beginning to end. Ford is at peak dreamy. Indiana Jones is rugged, but I think he’s more handsome cleaned up, especially as a charming, young, gentlemanly businessman.

Before watching, I briefly had the mistaken notion that Baldwin was the thieving boss. For one thing, that would relegate Weaver to being the Best Friend. And also, while two out of three of the women I can think of that are important in Tess’s life are rivals, it probably would have been worse to have the bad boss be a man. There are already a lot of chauvinists Tess has to go though without being stuck with one as her direct superior.

This was fun and somewhat empowering. I don’t much like the idea that you need to cheat your way into the office to be taken seriously, but it certainly is a bit of wish fulfillment not unique to this movie.We like our stories of success to be based on luck and talent, even if both are rare. We dare to dream we’ll get the best we deserve.

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