In Tootsie, the character Michael Dorsey lands the role of a lifetime – as does the actor playing him, Dustin Hoffman.
This multilayered comedy from director Sydney Pollack follows the increasingly elaborate deception of a down-on-his-luck New York actor who disguises himself as a woman to get a coveted soap opera gig; while his female persona skyrockets to fame, he finds himself learning to be a better man.
Hoffman’s ball-busting yet disarmingly sweet Dorothy Michaels is a sensational comic creation, given support by a stellar cast including Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Teri Garr, George Gaynes, Bill Murray, and, in her first Oscar-winning role, Jessica Lange.
Imbued with poignant drama, Tootsie is a funny and cutting film from an American moment defined by shifting social and sexual identities.
What We Thought:
The last time I saw Tootsie was probably when it came out on home video — we’re talking VHS here, people — so watching the new Criterion Collection edition was pretty much like watching the film for the first time.
And my reaction upon seeing it for the “first” time was probably similar to many people’s when they saw it for the first time back in the early ’80s: I absolutely loved it.
This is a film about much more than a guy in drag; mostly it’s about acting and actors, love and relationships, and Hollywood (or in this case, New York.) It’s also about gender politics, sexism, and sex. But above all that, it’s just a brilliant movie.
Dustin Hoffman has never been better than in this movie. Frankly, I can’t believe he lost the Best Actor Academy Award, even if it was to Ben Kingsley. The supporting cast is terrific as well.
But a large part of the credit goes to director Sydney Pollack, who manages to blend actual laugh-out-loud moments with real drama and emotion, resulting in a film that is 100% perfect in its tone.
I hadn’t thought about Tootsie in a long time before this new edition was announced, but I can honestly say it’s one of the most enjoyable viewing experiences I’ve had in a long time.
Audio commentary featuring director Sydney Pollack
New interview with comedy actor Dustin Hoffman and comedy writer Phil Rosenthal
Interview with Dorothy Michaels by film critic Gene Shalit
The Making of “Tootsie” (1982) and A Better Man: The Making of “Tootsie” (2007), two documentaries featuring interviews with cast and crew