Michael Dorsey is a he,
But he pretends that he’s a she
To play a woman on TV,
So they don’t know that she’s a he
Because he does it secretly.
When, as a she, he finds a she
Who bonds with him as Dorothy,
He wishes he could tell Julie
That he’s a he and not a she,
But he’s a better she than he.
His role gains popularity,
So how can he admit that he
Is not indeed a mighty she
But really just a lying he?
Of course you know – hilariously!

MPAA rating: PG (probably PG-13 nowadays)

This post has been long in coming, since my VC has been urging me to review one of her favorite comedies while I’ve been in no rush. Tootsie is considered one of the great comedies of the ‘80s and of all time, ranking at #2 on AFI’s list of top 100 laughs. Whenever we watch it, my VC relates how hard she laughed the first time she saw it and how entertaining (and timely) it still is over three decades after its original release.

I acknowledge that Tootsie is quite a good film with a giggle-prone screenplay and a sensational performance from Dustin Hoffman, who embodies his soft-spoken but headstrong female alter ego with thorough commitment. Many scenes are hysterical, especially when all the misunderstandings pile up toward the end. Jessica Lange as Julie earned the film’s one Oscar win (out of ten nominations), but the best scenes and lines go to Michael’s friends, played by Teri Garr and Bill Murray.

Yet for all of its strengths, Tootsie just isn’t one of my favorites, and I can’t really put my finger on why. I suppose the main reason is that I don’t find crossdressing inherently funny. That AFI list I mentioned earlier placed crossdressing comedies in both its #2 and #1 spot (Some Like It Hot being #1), so clearly a man in women’s clothes just tickles many people’s funny bones. I find it amusing here and thankfully tasteful for the most part, but it does not a comedy masterpiece make, even if individual moments do rise into hilarity.

I don’t mean to sound negative. This is just one of many films that my VC loves and I merely like. Hoffman is the star attraction, but for a gender-bending comedy, I always go back to Robin Williams’ Mrs. Doubtfire, perhaps because I prefer the reasoning for his actions (wanting to be with his kids rather than just seeking a job). However, both have a good mix of laughs and drama aimed at a fine actor getting in touch with his feminine side.

Best line: Probably a tie between Bill Murray’s “You slut!” and “That is one nutty hospital.”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2016 S. G. Liput
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