Tootsie tells the tale of Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman), a well-respected actor who, nevertheless, no one wants to work with due to his overbearing perfectionism. After a heartfelt talk with his stressed out agent (played by director Sydney Pollack), Michael realizes the extent of his trouble. He soon hears about a part opening up in a soap opera from a friend of his, Sandy (Terri Garr). The only catch is that it’s for a woman, and Sandy herself failed to get the part. However, Michael, in his desperation, decides to go for it anyway, and takes on the persona of Dorothy Michaels, and secures the part.
While working on the soap opera, he plays up his character as a strong personality, rather than a typical lovelorn woman, and it turns out to be a smashing hit. Later, Sandy catches him in mid-dress in her bedroom, which almost exposes his secret, but he manages to keep her distracted, and the two become romantically-intertwined, causing conflict for Michael as he navigates this relationship and his newfound popularity.
Michael also finds himself interested in one of his co-stars, Julie (Jessica Lange), and when he ultimately is given the ability to extend his contract on the show for another year, he realizes he can’t keep the charade up, and gracefully declines, while throwing on a shocking performance at a live version of the show. Although this initially causes confusion with his co-workers and friends, Julie ultimately decides to accept him for who he is.
“Tootsie, the story of a man who liberates himself by masquerading as a woman, is the funniest, most revealing comedy since Annie Hall.”
— Michael Blowen, Boston Globe
“This year’s miracle is called Tootsie. It is not just the best comedy of the year; it is popular art on the way to becoming cultural artifact.”
— Richard Schickel, Time
“Remarkably funny and entirely convincing, film pulls off the rare accomplishment of being an in-drag comedy which also emerges with three-dimensional characters.”
— Todd McCarthy, Variety
Did You Know?
Dustin Hoffman reportedly dressed in character at a variety of real life situations to test his ability to pull off being a woman, including at his daughter’s school for a parent evening, and was surprised to see how easily he could pull off the deception. Amusingly, the film crew on Tootsie would only give Hoffman bad news while he was in drag, as he was “much nicer as a woman”. Hoffman was given vocal training assistance by famed thespian Meryl Streep, and physicality training from famous drag actor Holly Woodlawn. Review our Gay Themed Films Here