Monday, December 10, 2012

Not Working Girl

Honestly, sometimes the best thing for a cleanse day or night is to just pop in a favorite movie you haven't seen in years.

I watched "Working Girl" last week and I thought I was tuning into a humdrum-but-I-love-it-anyway embarrassing old flick. But I forgot how much fun it was (84% on Rotten Tomatoes - and that's from the stingy critics!).

Before you gag yourself with a spoon, this '88 milli-classic was directed by Mike "The Graduate" Nichols and was nominated for nine Oscars - everything from Best Actress to Best Director. Carly Simon won for Best Original Song with Let The River Run (The New Jerusalem). Hearing it again after all these years brought tears to my eyes. Especially with the beautiful, sweeping shots of Manhattan before 9/11 changed the skyline (and the world) forever. (Watch the music video below.)

Yes, there's plenty of drinking. But more on that later because it also boasts one of the most incredible comedy casts ever.

If you've already seen it, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, imagine Melanie Griffith (before the collagen) as Tess, our struggling working class heroine. Sigourney Weaver as Katharine, the uptight yuppy boss. A young Alec Baldwin as the sleazoid boyfriend, sporting a mullet no less. And Harrison Ford as the note-perfect investor falling for Tess while actually nearly-engaged to Katharine.

Add to this not-too-shabby cast, an award-winning performance by Joan Cusack (worth it just to see her tri-colored eye shadow and 80s hair!) and early bit parts by Oliver Platt, Kevin Spacey, Nora Dunn, Olympia Dukakis and even a blink-or-you'll-miss-her turn by was-that-really Ricki Lake?

For macho rom-com haters and various low-brows, you can always tune in for the many lengthy scenes Melanie does in garter belts and demi bras. There's even a nude vacuuming scene. She's in the background, but they're there ... I mean, she's there, traipsing around in stockings, stilettos and nothing else but a Hoover and somehow making it if not downright sexy, then freaking memorable at least.  Even Sigourney strips down to lacy lingerie a couple of times, not having been so exposed since that skimpy, sweaty tank in Alien (speaking of great movies). For fashionistas, holeee, the shoulder pads are absolute mayhem.

As for the alcohol content, lots of champagne abounds. But the "oops-I-drank-too-much-last-night" award goes to the scene where Tess is so nervous about a schmancy cocktail party she's attending that her BFF pops her a couple valium to "ya know, take the edge off." Freshly relaxed and looking fine in a designer dress she "borrowed" from Katharine, she meets Jack Traynor (Harrison) hoping to pitch him a great investment idea she has.

But Jack doesn't want to talk business. Instead, he plies her not with Chardonnay - none of that "frog water" he calls it (gasp!! Harrison, you blaspheme!), but with good old tequila. Tess is flying high in minutes and naturally passes out. Jack ends up having to carry her potato-sack-style up the stairs to his apartment, where he undresses her and puts her to bed. She wakes up the next morning without any memory of what happened the night before.

Hmmmm ... sound familiar? Half familiar, anyway?

And of course there's the corny but really well-done concept of downtrodden secretary impersonating a sleek 80s career woman after her mean-girl boss has to be out of the office for a few weeks.

I was trying to think why romantic comedies have such enduring appeal - at least with most women (even though this is a much finer comedy than usual chick-flick fare).  And I think I figured it out: We love romantic comedies because the girl (it's usually a girl) always manages to get the guy/job no matter how silly, stupid, helpless, lost, confused, marginalized, broke, ill-educated or abused she is. Even if that means walking out on the guy/job, the girl always wins in the end. No matter how slim the odds. I think essentially that's what we love about rom-coms. They make us believe ...

Sigh ... believing ... now that's a healthy addiction.

Here's the heartbreaking and hilarious video for Let The River Run. Prepare for a grin ... and maybe even a couple goosebumps.