Last film of accidental smoking month and, as it turns out, my memory is even worse than I realized. There is ONE instance of smoking in this film even though it’s 1982. I thought everyone smoked in 1982.
Though our film this week makes little sense with our inadvertent theme of the month, it does transition us nicely into Feminist February. After this review, Christa and my sister have seen Tootsie, so I can now say with conviction that I have contributed to the betterment of their lives.
Where to Watch:
You’re on your own with this one. (No, you can’t borrow my copy.)
American classic about Dustin Hoffman impersonating a woman to get acting gigs. Frequently watched by Liz Lemon.
The Uncondensed Version:
As noted, Dustin Hoffman plays Michael Dorsey, struggling actor whose main (and possibly only) source of income is providing coaching for other actors.
Michael fails to get acting jobs because he’s never quite right for the part—but also because he has a terrible reputation for being difficult to work with. His goal is to make enough money to be his own boss and put on Bill Murray’s play, who happens to be his roomie and bff.
Both dudes are reasonably sleazy, and Michael is a huge douche to his friend, Sandy. Michael helps Sandy prepare for a role on the soap Southwest General, but ultimately steals the role as the incredibly cleverly named Dorothy Michaels.
The super sketchy director immediately says Dorothy’s not right for the role, but her sass impresses a female producer(?), who asks Dorothy to come back and audition. Dorothy/Michael is definitely interested in costar Jessica Lange, who is sweet but in extreme need of some confidence.
After landing the role, Dorothy has some shopping to do, and it’s quite impressive (if a tad unrealistic) how quickly Michael masters the art of applying makeup. However, he’s just about to make the major dick move of sleeping with Sandy if only to distract her from the fact that he was trying on her clothes.
Everything seems to be going well until there’s a rewrite of one of Dorothy’s scenes in which she’ll be kissing the creepy older actor (who plays a doctor). She tries to discuss the scene with the fucking awful director, but he absolutely will not listen, calls all of the women “honey” or “baby,” tries to speak for Jessica, and makes creepy jokes about her being on her knees. UGH. At the very last moment, Dorothy hits the doctor on the head with a clipboard, after which the director insists that Dorothy discuss any changes she’d like to make with him beforehand. And then the doctor kisses her anyway—what a sleaze.
Suddenly Michael finds himself worrying about things he never had to worry about when he was a male actor. As a female actor, Dorothy has to worry about if she looks pretty enough, whether it will make a bad impression if a man answers her phone, and if she has anything appropriate to wear. It’s almost like there are a slew of problems women have that men rarely—if ever—have to think about.
On the other hand, Michael is still a bit of a dick as he lies to Sandy about being sick to avoid her and stands her up for dinner with Jessica Lange.
As it turns out, Jessica has a baby, a really terrible romantic relationship with the director, and quite possibly a drinking problem. Oh, and a father with a keen interest in Dorothy’s life and career.
Meanwhile, Dorothy is becoming a media sensation because of the sass she brings to her improvised lines.
Things get complicated when Dorothy’s contract is extended from 2 weeks to a year, and Jessica Lange’s father decides to ask Dorothy a very significant question. Michael/Dorothy is developing feelings for Jessica Lange, but he is STILL stringing Sandy along and making really lame excuses for not telling her the truth. Not cool.
What I love about this film is Michael’s slowly dawning realization of the way he enforces a double standard for men and women, as well as how awful and misogynistic his excuses are regarding his treatment of women. Fuck the patriarchy.
5/5 Pink Panther Heads
I love this film. If you ever ask me about Tootsie and I say, “Eh, it’s not that great,” you’ll know I’ve been bodysnatched. I want to give this film a standing ovation every time Dorothy goes off on the director about calling her “tootsie.” Also Bill Murray is in this.
There’s a reason this is a classic, and it’s fucked how relevant a lot of this shit is for women in the workplace and their daily lives.
Minor beefs with this movie include the title (a major point of this film was NOT to call women “honey,” “tootsie,” etc, and the name of the fucking movie is Tootsie?!??! Is it reclaiming the word tootsie???), offhand remarks about rape, the occasional gay joke that has not aged well, and “It Might Be You” getting stuck in my head every goddamn time.
Something’s telling me there might be a review (all of my life)…here on Christa’s blog.
4 thoughts on “Tootsie, or: Feminist February Is Now”
Hahahah. I love how much you love this. I really enjoyed myself, loved the 80’s montage music during Dorothy and Julie’s cooking scene. It’s a great film. I think I over-thunk some of it a bit but hey, that’s me *shrug*.
I didn’t get that he was learning from his experience as a woman though, maybe I missed that? I felt like his final scene where he’s all cute and shruggy was quite annoying and Julie forgave him very easily. Again, perhaps I was just disappointed that I liked Dorothy so much and he had to go back to being a man.
Great pick, J xoxo
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I’m so relieved you liked it!
I feel like I need a better rating system because I’m not sure I love this one quite as much as Laura, but I do adore it a lot.
The ’80s soundtrack of this film is everything. I love and hate it because it’s going to be stuck in my head for the next year.
And I’m usually in favor of not forgiving men for anything ever, but I can’t blame Jessica Lange for forgiving Dustin Hoffman even though, YES, it was earned way too easily. She does get to steal from his wardrobe. Win win.
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“Can I borrow the yellow Halston?” Brilliant.
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