(director: Mike Nichols; screenwriter: Kevin Wade; cinematographer: Michael Ballhaus; editor: Sam O’Steen; music: Carly Simon; cast: Harrison Ford (Jack Trainer), Sigourney Weaver (Katharine Parker), Melanie Griffith (Tess McGill), Alec Baldwin (Mick Dugan), Joan Cusack (Cyn), Philip Bosco (Oren Trask), Kevin Spacey (Bob Speck), Olympia Dukakis (Personnel Director), David Duchovny (Tess’s Birthday Party Friend), Oliver Platt (Lutz); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Douglas Wick; 20th Century Fox; 1988)
“It deliciously plays out as a modern day corporate Cinderella story for females.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Mike Nichols (“Heartburn”/”Postcards from the Edge”/”Carnal Knowledge”) is the director and Kevin Wade is the writer of this often very funny New York romantic comedy set in the workplace, that owes a large part of its success to the talented cast. It deliciously plays out as a modern day corporate Cinderella story for females.
Staten Island resident Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith), living with her lowlife tattooed boyfriend (Alec Baldwin), is a hardworking secretary in Manhattan who has higher aspirations, but feels held back by her male chauvinist bosses. She lands a new job as a receptionist at the brokerage firm of Petty-Marsh for the high-powered Bryn Mawr grad, the same aged female executive Katharine Porter (Sigourney Weaver), who offers her encouragement as one woman to another and listens to her plan to put together a deal for a sought after mega-client (Philip Bosco). When Tess learns that Katharine, after she breaks a leg skiing, uses her plan but does not credit her, she decides to work the deal herself with the help of investment broker Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford). He’s a deal-maker who coincidentally is Katharine’s lover. Things pick up steam when Katharine returns from her injury and is fuming at her secretary’s takeover of her office.
It’s a buoyant feel-good movie that’s often touching and quite amusing in the interactions between the female leads, but the Horatio Alger premise weakly follows the usual Hollywood formulaic cornball road to success films– this one has the sympathetic female secretary outsmart her villainous female boss in work and love. It gets over, mainly, because of Griffith’s sexy performance that keeps it energetic, amusing and tense.
The film was later made into a brief TV series.
REVIEWED ON 11/13/2008 GRADE: B