Written by / 4/27/2015 / No comments / , , , ,

REVIEW OF TOOTSIE STARRING DUSTIN HOFFMAN TWICE

Year: 1982 Grade: A+
Perhaps the only reason Dustin Hoffman didn’t win the Best Actor Oscar for TOOTSIE is... his best moments occur as an actress, literally. His character Michael Dorsey, according to rumor, had the kind of difficult personality that Hoffman waged on Hollywood during his prime in the 1970’s. In other words, he could have been Dorsey without THE GRADUATE catapult, which makes the moments between Michael and his agent perhaps the funniest in the entire film…

Jessica Lange
Behind the scenes, director Sydney Pollack (originally an actor) and Hoffman were constantly at odds, so this edgy energy transitioned perfectly on screen. It’s Pollock’s bigwig George Fields who tells his frantic client he will never be hired in New York, or anywhere. That’s when the movie truly begins…

TOOTSIE is one of the greatest comedies of all time, taking the Billy Wilder canvas into the “modern era” and one of the first motion pictures to begin defining a brand new shiny decade, the 1980’s. And what keeps it from cult status is the mainstream popularity upon release, and the glossy, feel-good, painfully catchy Stephen Bishop tracks and also the title; the latter an intentionally ironic take on the dying art of male chauvinism narrowed into Dabney Coleman’s soap director, Ron. The 9 TO 5 villain plays a surprisingly vulnerable sexist boyfriend of our ingenue love interest, and the only Oscar winner, Jessica Lange, whose beautiful actress Julie is the apple of our androgynous hero's eyes. Her performance is also the most subtle; a gentle turn relying on bouts of pallid reverie – the single mother struggling for true love in a era, and industry, merely masquerading progression for the still maligned "second sex.” 

Bill Murray & Dustin Hoffman
Dorsey, who alters his name to Dorothy Michaels and becomes a strong female character on the soap, has a few suitors including Charles Durning as Julie’s friendly father and scene-stealer George Gaynes as the soap's stock veteran bad actor, eventually serenading Dorothy in a scene that ends with one of the funniest lines ever: no surprise (yet in a surprising non-credited role) it comes from Bill Murray, providing one of his wittiest roles as Michael’s oddball writer roommate. Also, Murray smoothly bridges the two main templates: Michael at home preparing for his job on the set, a sublime balance of personal life and show business. 

In the Thankless Supporting department is a wildly emotional Teri Garr as a struggling actress whose initial failure for the soap leads to the open door wherein Michael's desperate changeling occurs. Giving Hoffman one of his greatest performances and is, with the exception of a sympathetic yet one-dimensional Oscar winning RAIN MAN four years later, the epitome of his genius as a shape-shifter who could vanish into any eclectic role: Centering not on the overall humor of Dorsey’s ruse, it’s the subtle observations… like how cutthroat shopping women can be, to the look in a man's eyes full of lust… that brings to life a modern woman who is still wholesome, old fashion, and not even female. Thus, tapping into his feminine side, Dorsey, and the script by Larry Gelbart, never gets too obvious or sentimental.
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