Classic of the Week: Tootsie (1982)


Tootsie is a 1982 American comedy film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Terri Garr, Bill Murray, Dabney Coleman, Geena Davis, Charles Durning and Doris Belack. The story is about a talented but erratic actor who is forced by his reputation to change his appearance and identity as a woman to land a job.

This film is filled with clever humor mixed with absurdity and some tenderness, with the feel of a classic comedy film like Some Like it Hot. It is one that can make a person laugh every time they watch it, because it’s that darn funny. Dustin Hoffman should have won an Oscar for this film, because he is outstanding as both Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels. No other actor would have come close to being as good as Dustin, he is truly one of the greatest in film history.

Can a middle-aged actor living in New York City find real romance and happiness as an actress? Well, Hoffman does a quite a great job as Dorothy, using an imperfect Southern accent, big “grandma” glasses, long dresses, stockings, lipstick and a short brown curly wig to convince people. I might have thought Dorothy Michaels was actually a woman if I hadn’t known before hand, but that is what makes this film so great. Michael throws fits and has a bad reputation and goes against the roles he is given.

Yes, the “get up” is a bit much, but the character of Dorothy Michaels looks like a man in old lady drag, with Sophia Pertillo’s glasses. The character certainly has the Golden Girl meets drag look nailed. Sure the look could’ve been toned down, but that still doesn’t bring this film any negativity. To me, it just makes the film more original. Michael does become extremely absorbed in Dorothy, taking the character to the extremes by bossing people around on sets, even going on dates with men, knowing that they can’t get further than kissing.

This film has the humor like Some Like it Hot and The Birdcage, but is also more serious when Dorothy and Michael get furious and when Dorothy reveals that she is actually Michael Dorsey by yelling and removing the wig and glasses. It is one of the most famous movie scenes of all time and Dustin Hoffman is absolutely perfect.

What I love about Tootsie is the real versus fake worlds of both of the main characters. Dorothy becomes a celebrity and all for faking it. But in the end, Michael learns that being himself is more important, what a great message. A truly wonderful film. 13+ 5/5


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