A middle-aged actress, played by Dustin Hoffman in drag, actually carries most of her own scenes as herself; in this and other ways, "Tootsie" is a great story and not a gimmick, mixing absurdity, seriousness, social commentary, and farce with tenderness. Michael Dorsey (Hoffman), rather like a younger Hoffman, is a bright, aggressive, talented New York actor whose reputation for taking stands, throwing tantrums, and interpreting roles differently from how the director does make him almost unemployable. "Nobody in New York wants to hire me?" he demands of his agent, who answers, "Nobody in Hollywood wants you, either."
How to get work? Michael accompanies a friend (Garr) to her audition for the part is a middle-aged woman hospital administrator in a soap opera. When his friend isn't hired, Michael considers dressing in drag and auditioning. Improvising brilliantly, he gets the role.
Hoffman is believable as an actress "Dorothy," whose a Southern accent disguises his voice. Although his wig and glasses are a little much, certain actual women look like drag queens, and, in Manhattan, nobody gives "Dorothy" a second look. In fact, she takes on a life of her own. A liberated eccentric, at first she seems odd, but is likable because she stands up for what's right.
It bothers Dorothy that the soap opera's chauvinist director (Coleman) mistreats an attractive young actress (Lange), Julie, who plays a nurse on the show. As "Dorothy" becomes Julie's confidant, Michael falls in love with her. To make matters worse, Julie's gruff, friendly, lonely father (Durning) falls for "Dorothy." To Michael's dismay, his roommate (Murray) will only chide "Dorothy" drily, "Don't play hard to get."
"Tootsie" offers almost every possible variation on the theme of mistaken sexual identity, and manages to take lighthearted but well-aimed jabs at sexism while poking fun at soap operas, New York, show business, agents, and Manhattan's social pecking order, and turns out to be a love story so touching that the viewer will be surprised and moved at the film's conclusion.
Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal
Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Charles Durning, Teri Garr, Bill Murphy, Dabney Coleman, Do
Tootsie; mistaken sexual identity; soap operas; New York Cit
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