Though cliche and a little imperfect, Working Girl is a bit of a Cinderella story sprinkled with workplace sexism. McGill wants more than anything to prove her worth, share her ideas without a co-worker taking the credit and simply move on up the latter. Her lack of education, age, and gender hold her ambition and skills hostage. In the most drastic ways possible like dressing up in her boss' clothing and setting up meetings with executives out of her professional league, she becomes a bit of her own fairy godmother. Women can be 'successful' in a few different ways: stepping on people to stay atop the ladder, playing the game just like a man, or accepting their lot in life; using fashion, contacts, and an open ear to an opportunity to make their stamp.
The script isn't perfect, but it's a fun little romp to see who or when someone will catch onto Tess' extreme scheme. While posing as her boss, she has insatiable chemistry with the ever-charismatic Jack and tries to dodge other increasingly suspicious employees. Time isn't on her side as she cleverly pushes her ideas to the finishing line but risks people finding out the truth: she's just a secretary.
I’m not going to spend the rest of my life working my ass off and getting nowhere just because I followed rules that I had nothing to do with setting up.
Right away, Tess feels relatable, someone (a woman) who just want to work like men without involving sexual politics. This is primarily accomplished by Griffith as Tess; she's very subtle as a comedienne, a little quirky, and a fresh face that even now one would be interested in watching out for 'cause she's going places. Her daughter Dakota Johnson, a natural entertainer, yes even if she stars in Fifty Shades, is carrying the family mantle now, and there's a lot of surprising mannerisms that they both bring to the silver screen. The second generation movie star has great chemistry with Harrison Ford whose dapper good looks and charm still holds up in the charisma department like other movie hunks like Clark Gable and Cary Grant.
Alongside Griffith for the ride is Sigourney Weaver, kinda unlike audiences have seen or are familiar with her before i.e. kicking ass and taking names in Aliens. Here, as Tess' boss and frenemy, she doesn't have a problem with stepping on people to get to the top and remain there, but she isn't entirely villainous. It's fun to question whether she is a true mentor to her protege or looking out for herself. Weaver is funny and sharp, and as usual, her character is not one to cross.
While the cast and story may be a little timeless, the movie is also a shocking refresher of the era it's trapped in by the eighties The production design, and in particular, the costumes, are an astounding walk down memory lane, even if you didn't live through the era personally. The ginormous desktop computers, shoulder-padded suits, overwhelming perms, and gaudy make-up all comes back to delight or horror in questionable aesthetic evolution.
Director Mike Nichols delivers a fun flashback to the eighties, and a startling reminder that even thirty years later, equality in the workplace hasn't been fully achieved. The movie rightfully earned Academy Award nominations for its ladies: Griffith, Weaver, and Joan Cusack, as well as Best Picture and Director, and won for Best Original Song. Elements of Working Girl might be outdated, but its scrappy heroine go-getting attitude is funny, relatable, and elicits a serious case of go-getting.