A difficult, unemployable actor reinvents himself as a woman to land
a job on a soap opera, but the stunt starts sabotaging his personal life.
Directed by Sydney Pollack
Written by Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal
Starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr,
Bill Murray, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning,
Sydney Pollack, George Gaynes, Geena Davis, Doris Belack
Oscar Wins - Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Lange)
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman), Best Supporting Actress (Teri Garr), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing,
Best Sound, Best Original Song (It Might Be You)
Elements of Tootsie have obviously not aged as well as we may have hoped. The concept of a man becoming a woman is no longer considered a comedic concept, and for very good reason. Plus, there's the gay jokes. Overall, there's just parts of this movie that are unpleasant, for today's audiences. I'd argue that back in 1982, this was likely considered to be a progressive film. Hell, Dustin Hoffman said that playing the character of Dorothy Michaels made him realize how much of a misogynist he truly was, and that made him cry. Now that we've gotten all of that out of the way, I did like the film. It's not as funny as I expected, but it has a lot of heart.
Michael Dorsey (Hoffman) is an actor's actor. He's difficult, demanding, and has a reputation for being a pain in the ass. He's unemployable, as his agent continually reminds him. So, out of the blue, Michael reinvents himself as Dorothy Michaels, a southern actress who lands a gig on a trashy soap. There, he meets Julie (Lange), and falls in love with her, though Julie sees Dorothy as a new friend who reinvigorates her independence and helps her find her dignity as a woman. Now that he's the hottest new actress in New York, Michael wants out, because Dorothy is starting to take over his life. Dustin Hoffman really kills it, delivering amazing performances as both Michael and Dorothy.
Tootsie still has a place in the conversation, though I can understand it being labeled transphobic by audiences today. I'm just not the one to make that call, but I'll hear out anyone who wants to have that discussion. As for myself, I think Tootsie is a decent film that's mostly just about how shitty it is to be a struggling actor.