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Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) is a secretary with big hair and even bigger dreams. She works in a financial house and she aspires to join the dealers. Despite having good ideas, Tess finds her way to promotion blocked at every turn. When she becomes the assistant of mergers and acquisitions specialist Katherine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), Tess thinks she has found the mentor she needs to gain entry to the boys’ club. Instead Katherine tries to steal one of Tess’s ideas. When Katherine breaks her leg skiing, Tess seizes the chance to gain revenge and prove she has the right stuff. Stepping into her boss’s shoes she enlists unsuspecting Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford) to help her put a deal together.

Review by Stuart Whitmore:
Before Pretty Woman there was Working Girl, a modern-day Pygmalion that focused not on sex but that other 80s obsession: power. Melanie Griffith puts in a career-high turn as the secretary from the wrong side of the Hudson, somehow managing to seem both naïve and wily at the same time. Griffith is no Julia Roberts in the charisma stakes though, and her ditzy delivery and childish whine soon grate on the nerves.

Sigourney Weaver and Harrison Ford are endlessly watchable, however. Their on screen chemistry is reminiscent of the screwball antics of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, leaving you wishing they had more screen time together. Ford gets a chance to dust off his goofy grin and plays the feather-light comedy to perfection, while the normally likeable Weaver is perfectly detestable as Tess’s scheming boss with her patronizing “watch me, Tess, learn from me” attitude.

The film itself patronizes its characters somewhat. Director Mike Nichols wants to have his cake and fill his face, insisting there’s more to Tess than meets the eye while filling the rest of the typing pool with walking, talking caricatures who have no depth whatsoever. Joan Cusack as Tess’s best friend Cyn is the worst offender, all poodle hair, pink eyeshadow and invites to have of a nice cup of “kawfee.”

There are some bit parts to savour though. A pre superstardom Kevin Spacey (in only his second film appearance) pops up as a sleazy arbitrage man who thinks a girl should give head to get ahead, and if you’re quick on the pause button you can spot X-Filer David Duchovny hiding in Tess’s shower when she comes home to a surprise party.

Published January 17, 2002

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CAST: Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Cusack, Alec Baldwin

DIRECTOR: Mike Nichols

RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: January 16, 2001

Widescreen 1.85:1; Theatrical trailers. Languages: English. Subtitles: Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Hebrew, Swedish, Portuguese, Polish, Norwegian, Icelandic, English for the hearing impaired

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