Hey 3.5 readers.
So I’ve been watching movies to pass the time during the coronavirus outbreak, and last night I settled on Tootsie on Netflix. It’s funny how movies you saw as a kid come across differently to you as an adult all these years later.
Dustin Hoffman plays Michael Dorsey, an actor with immense talent who can’t get steady work because he’s an unwavering perfectionist, refusing to obey the most basic commands of his directors if he disagrees with them.
When his friend, Sandy, a fellow thespian (Terri Garr) auditions for and is denied a part as a hospital administrator on a soap opera, Southwest General, Michael, desperate for money to produce his roomate’s play (Bill Murray as Jeff) decides on a lark to don a dress and wig and try out for the part, introducing herself as actress Dorothy Michaels.
Miraculously, he nails it and while the rest of the women on the show are portrayed as brainless females who swoon at the first sign of male authority, she plays the part as a tough talking, no nonsense feminist.
A star is born, but along the way, Michael will have to figure out his feelings for co-star Julie (Jessica Lange) who only knows him as her BFF Dorothy, and fight off advances from Julie’s father and a male costar.
It’s interesting to watch the film in the light of the MeToo era. There’s a point in the film where Michael confides in Jeff that being a woman is exhausting, that he has to spend his money on countless products just to look pretty, and that all day long, he’s fending off men who are trying to force themselves on her. Maybe all men should have to walk a mile in Tootsie’s heels. (Tootsie being an unflattering name the chauvinist director Dabney Coleman gives her.)
There are some things that don’t hold up in modern times. Men who learn they have kissed a man pretending to be a woman are horrified. Julie’s father openly states that the only reason he never killed Michael is because the two didn’t kiss. While these sentiments would likely be felt even today by a straight male who kisses a woman who is, in fact, a man, the looks of panic and horror wouldn’t be appreciated on film.
And of course, it’s important to note to these men that “Dorothy” never tried to kiss any of them. Pervs.