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[SXSW ’22] ‘Still Working 9 to 5’ review: Looking back on the movie & ahead to the future

What a way to make a living.

9 to 5 is one of the most iconic movies in American cinema. Still Working 9 to 5 is a documentary making its World Premiere at South by Southwest that highlights why the film is still relevant four decades later. Using modern interviews and archival footage, it is an entertaining and interesting watch. The documentary is constantly eye opening. Nowhere is this seen more than in news footage from the past. As some women fight for equal pay and equal rights, others argue about how it would bring America down. There are also interviews from men who do not understand what the big problem is.

These moments mirror today’s America in which people fight against moving forward while refusing to acknowledge the issues even exist. Still Working 9 to 5 does a great job of showing how the problems that were around at its release are still being seen today. This also shows why the movie means something to people of all ages. As someone states, there may be new slogans, but the fight is still the same.

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Broken into chapters, Still Working 9 to 5 is almost a timeline of how the original movie has been a part of the modern world ever since its release in 1980. From the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court to the #metoo movement, 9 to 5 manages to resonate. This is seen in the number of revivals the movie has experienced. The message easily crosses generations.

A major theme of the latter half of the documentary is the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. It is a proposed amendment that guarantees equal legal rights to all American citizens regardless of sex.  First introduced almost 100 years ago (!), Still Working 9 to 5 chronicles the ups and downs of getting it ratified into the Constitution.  The end is a powerful reminder of how much still needs to be accomplished.

Despite its serious message, Still Working 9 to 5 is fun. Dolly Parton is as charming as ever while Lily Tomlin’s frankness is a treat to hear. Jane Fonda has been a powerful voice in activism for decades. It is interesting to hear the genesis of the movie and how Parton and Tomlin came to be cast. Things end with a new version the famous title song; the duet with Parton and Kelly Clarkson is a nice touch that showcases how even though things change, the meaning is still the same.

Still Working 9 to 5 makes its World Premiere at SXSW March 13

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