A pushy perfectionist actor (Dustin Hoffman) has built a bad name for himself and can no longer get any work. In a desperate attempt to land a role, he dresses up as a woman and gets the part. She rises to fame and becomes a feminist icon.
From the get-go Tootsie looks like it’s set to be a slapstick cross dressing comedy a-la Mrs. Doubtfire but it’s actually a warm, well balanced and considered piece of work.
The only things that haven’t aged well don’t detract from the film, namely a couple of 80s montages (actually perhaps more than a couple…) and one scene of slow motion running through New York traffic set to synth drums that seems to be in every film from the time.
Hoffman obviously carries the film but the supporting cast are well chosen, bringing the whole thing to life. Jessica Lange pulls off the tricky task of falling in love with our protagonist without realising it. Bill Murray is very funny as the deadpan room-mate and confidante.
I came into Tootsie expecting either aged Oscar-bait or just some dated wackiness, and I was proven wrong on both counts. It’s a biting satire of the entertainment industry that manages to find plenty of comedy without pulling any punches.