January 19, 1981 12:00 PM

As office workers beset by a sexist boss, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton have come up with a featherheaded farce about what they call the “pink-collar ghetto.” Fonda, playing against type, is a dowdy housewife who joins the work force when hubby dumps her for his own Girl Friday. Tomlin is the office veteran, always passed over in favor of less talented men. And Dolly, bless her, is the stacked sec who spends her time picking up pencils for her leering boss (Dabney Coleman, in a delectable piece of bad-guy hamming). When he gets too boorish to bear, the women take their revenge. Director Colin (Foul Play) Higgins and co-scenarist Patricia Resnick sometimes coagulate the plot with sitcom slapstick. But the inventive Tomlin recovers neatly from her Moment by Moment fiasco, Fonda exhibits refreshing reserve, and Dolly dazzles with her tangy one-liners. Threatening to go for her gun, she warns the boss: “I’ll change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot.” While the subject merits more subtlety, 9 to 5 does get in a good word for equal jobs, equal pay and day-care centers. Perhaps a hoot instead of a hammer will prove effective propaganda. (PG)

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