Directed by Sidney Pollack and starring Dustin Hoffman in one of his finest roles, Tootsie is a 1982 comedy drama film about an actor who is forced to create a new identity as a woman in order to get a job with naturally hilarity ensuing afterwards.
The plot is fairly simple but is executed properly, although sometimes in a clichéd manner. It is engaging from start to finish and somewhat authentic, but it never quite makes full use of its clever premise the way I was hoping it would. The themes it explores are interesting and cleverly explored. However, all that approach with sexes being so different in nature is rather dated by today’s standards. Overall, the movie hasn’t aged particularly well with the now present advancement of LGBT rights and the rights of women. But in context, in that time, it is rather smart and original. And the conclusion is ingenious with quite authentic revelation of his identity which I found surprising and very smart.
As for the characters, they are very well developed thanks to superb characterization and script. Michael Dorsey is of course the highlight as the troubled protagonist and both his Michael as well as Dorothy persona are wonderfully conceived and realized. You can get his troubled relationship with women, his unfortunate unemployment issues and his exploration of his different personalities and what Dorothy brings to the surface are all great stuff, well depicted. As for Julie, she is a typical female character and a love interest never quite rising above that level, Sandy has her moments, but Les as the typical old man in that time is funny and his relationship with Dorothy is excellent comic relief. And all the other supporting characters are well written with Jeff being the most memorable and most hilarious.
The acting is certainly terrific across the board. Jessica Lange gives a respectable performance in a somewhat boring role and Bill Murray is great and memorable in one his earlier roles. But this is of course Dustin Hoffman’s show and he once again proved here what an amazing actor he is. He gave such a natural, realistic and brilliant performance in a crazy, incredibly difficult role. He is great as Michael and as Dorothy he escapes into a female persona beautifully. Hoffman proved here that he is a force to be reckoned with and one of the finest actors ever to grace the silver screen.
Sidney Pollack did a wonderful job as a director here, tying everything together remarkably. The pacing is also excellent with never a dull, rushed or dragged moment. And the ending is fresh, if all of the movie before it was somewhat expected. And the movie definitely has both brain and heart with many emotional moments to be had here. The cinematography is nothing to write home about, but the dialogue is polished and the tone is well handled shifting from comedy to drama in a smooth manner. Speaking of humor, it is good with some very funny and smartly executed scenes, but it is overall not that great with not to many truly hilarious sequences. I wished for more because it clearly is supposed to be a comedy.