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TOOTSIE, 1982
Movie Review

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TOOTSIE,      MOVIE POSTERTOOTSIE, 1982
Movie Reviews

Directed by Sydney Pollack
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lang, Bill Murray, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Geena Davis, Teri Garr
Review by Silvana Jakich


SYNOPSIS:

An unemployed actor with a reputation for being difficult disguises himself as a woman to get a role in a soap opera.

OSCAR WINNER for Best Supporting Actress (Lange)

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REVIEW:

Unemployed New York City actor, Michael Dorsey, (Dustin Hoffman) is no longer able to find work due to his reputation as a "difficult actor". His only way out of this situation is to pretend he is a woman and assume the identity of Dorothy Michaels- a stout middle aged actress.

Michael auditions for a role on a TV soap called "Southwest General" and lands the part of the female hospital director. The show's ratings climb and "Dorothy Michaels" becomes a huge celebrity.

Complications arise when Michael initially makes friends with a lovely co star, Julie, (Jessica Lang) and then falls in love with her. Because Julie has only known Michael as "Dorothy", Michael must keep his real identity secret from her as he will lose Julie's trust. Therefore Michael leads a dual life experiencing events either as a man or a woman. This, of course, leads to some hilarious and surprising scenarios and plot twists.

The beauty of this incredible gem of a film is that it works on so many different levels with a variety of thought provoking themes without ever hitting the viewer over the head with them. "Tootsie" can simply be taken as a hilarious comedy of mistaken identity with all the visual gags and comedy of watching a straight man in drag. Or, if the viewer wishes to dig deeper, there is an astute exploration of male and female roles and changing attitudes, expected gender behavior and the discovery and understanding of what it is like to be a woman through direct experience.

Dustin Hoffman plays Michael Dorsey with manic gusto and energy. He is both hilarious and touching as we watch his journey into real manhood. Michael's initial lies and use of women as trophies eventually haunts him as he is preyed upon by men when he is Dorothy. The irony of his friendship with Julie is that Michael is always warning her of men's motives and shortcomings. Now sees a reflection of himself in these men and cannot take their behavior or his as acceptable..

With a pool of excellent supporting actors and fleshed out characters, Tootsie makes for a heartwarming night's viewing. Look out for Bill Murray's lemon chewing scene and Teri Garr's constant comic brilliance as the tormented failing actress Sandy. This is what brilliant screenplays look like and with Sydney Pollack's light handed direction, the story comes to life no matter what the decade or age of the audience.

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