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USA 1982
Directed by
Sydney Pollack
116 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars


Tootsie is one of the best American comedies of the '80s, with one of Dustin Hoffman's most memorable performances and an excellent support cast, only slightly weighed down by the era's taste for pastel colours and saccharine music. In a double injustice Jessica Lange, who was also nominated the same year for a Best Actress for her role in Frances, which she should have won instead won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance here., beating her co-star, the always reliable Teri Garr (Hoffman was nominated for Best Actor but was up against some tough opposition including Paul Newman for The Verdict and Ben Kingsley who took off the Oscar with his impressive performance in Gandhi).

Hoffman plays Michael Dorsey, an arty but unsuccessful actor who in order to get a role on a trashy TV hospital soap.disguises himself as a woman.  He gets the job but when he becomes romantically interested in fellow actor Julie (Lange) he finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place. 

Eschewing cheap gender-stereotypical laughs, the story's themes and characterisations are richly drawn in a strong script to which both Elaine May and Barry Levinson were uncredited contributors. Pollack, who plays Michael's agent with a good deal of flair, has cited the film as one of the worst experiences of his life thanks to Hoffman but this is not apparent on screen, the two to all intents and purposes lapping up the gender-bending fun. Bill Murray also contributes in the latter department as Michael's flatmate.

FYI: A scantily-clad Geena Davis makes her big screen debut.




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