Blindspot: Tootsie

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TootsieThe classic comedy barely missed the cut for inclusion in my Revisiting 1982 series (next edition of that coming up tonight), but I thought I would see the film anyway as this month's blindspot film, especially since the film will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in about a month.  I always knew Tootsie as “the film where dresses up as a woman,” without really knowing the exact plot details.  Well, it turns out that those details are actually quite simple.  Hoffman plays a desperate actor named Michael Dorsey, who becomes “Dorothy Michaels” in order to get a role on a soap opera.  He/she becomes a big hit and Michael learns to become a better person as Dorothy, especially as he befriends and falls in love with co-star Julie (Jessica Lange). The film is very much a 1980s film and doesn't seem to have aged particular well (the piano and synthesizer score doesn't help).  The concept of a man dressing up as a woman isn't as funny in this day and age as it probably was in 1982.  Even when Robin Williams did the same thing 11 years later in Mrs. Doubtfire, he had to raise the bar and make it an elderly woman.  As such, I have to say that I didn't find the film's sitcomish brand of humour particularly funny, though I do say that I cracked up towards the end of the film.  I guess you can say that my sense of humour is from a different era. One performance that really stood out for me in the film was Jessica Lange's Oscar-winning performance as the love interest Julie.  Lange has had a career resurgence over the last couple years, due to her award-winning role on the cable show American Horror Story, and I have to say that it was a little weird seeing this same actress, who was not only 30 years younger, but was playing a character that was pretty much the polar opposite to her role(s) on American Horror Story.  Lange's Julie is so kind and soft-spoken, that it's almost hard to believe that this same actress would again be winning awards for playing cruel and sinister.  Another stand-out role in the film is as Michael's roommate Jeff.  Murray is playing much more of the straight man and voice of reason in the film, which is a bit odd considering the films Murray was known for at that point (the film comes two years after Caddyshack and two years before Ghostbusters).  However, he does get one great line. Overall, I would say that Tootsie was an OK film.  While it does confound my modern mind how a comedy like this would end up with ten Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), the film still has its charm.7 | FAIR 

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.