Tootsie (1982)


Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Bill Murray, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, George Gaynes, Sydney Pollack, Geena Davis (her debut)

Director: Sydney Pollack

Summary: An unemployed actor masquerades as a woman to win a soap-opera role

Other Nominations: Director, Actor (Hoffman), Supporting Actress (Lange)*, Supporting Actress (Garr), Original Screenplay, Original Song (“It Might Be You”), Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Film Editing

One of the better comedies of the 80s, although it definitely has higher aspirations than just being funny-while the premise of a man dressing up in secret as a woman has been done to death by now (Mrs. Doubtfire, Big Momma’s House, Juwanna Mann, the list goes one with Some Like It Hot of course preceding it), this movie actually tries and succeeds in exploring gender dynamics and societal perceptions. It’s not uproariously funny or super-insightful, but it’s pretty good at both, and that’s an accomplishment in itself. The cast is really strong, with Hoffman doing about as good a job as possible in a demanding role, where he has to be both funny and be taken seriously while as a woman, Murray basically just being Bill Murray (aka the perfect straight man), and Lange and Garr doing well in their respective roles too (although I’m not sure how Lange was nominated for supporting actress as she is unquestionably the lead). Also, how did it not get a makeup and hairstyling Oscar nomination? There were only 2 nominees that year, but it’s a way more obvious nominee than Gandhi was.

One last note: every music cue from the score/soundtrack could be a theme for an 80s sitcom, and this started distracting me after a while.

Overall: A very solid comedy that does a good job exploring gender dynamics, and Hoffman is great in the lead.

Rating: B+


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