Film review: Tootsie (1982)

After linking to the video of Dustin Hoffmann talking about the creation of the film Tootsie where he describes having an epiphany about how women are treated while researching the film, I decided to watch it again.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, Hoffmann plays an underemployed actor and acting coach who is such a perfectionist about his craft and so argumentative that people refuse to work with him. In desperation, he decides to audition for a TV soap opera disguised as a woman and his abrasive personality turns out to be what they are looking for in the character. So he gets the part and becomes a smash success. But acting like a woman opens his eyes to the way that women are treated.

The film holds up remarkably well and is still funny. While Hoffmann is an outstanding actor, the film is also well-written with a superb supporting cast of Bill Murray, Teri Garr, Jessica Lange, Dabney Coleman, and Charles Durning. But what is also interesting is its wry take on gender and sexuality in the context of the 1980s.

The film was directed by Sydney Pollack. While many people who are known primarily as actors have also become good directors, he was one of the rare people who were primarily directors who could also act well. In this scene from the film, he plays Hoffmann’s exasperated agent.

Here’s the trailer from the film.

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