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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.25:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 70:22)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
  • German: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Mono
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Hebrew, Czech, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Hindi, Bulgarian
  Extras
  • 3 Theatrical trailer
  • 4 Filmographies

Tootsie

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 112 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

'Drag' comedies are nothing new, and there are many of them in the history of Hollywood, some of the best including Some Like It Hot and Mrs Doubtfire. People's first reaction is usually, "Ho ho ho, a man in a dress! Yes, very amusing!". So often the comedy is more slapstick than intellectual, and the 'man-in-the-dress' is a closet homosexual, a murderous psychopath, or a repressed transvestite. Thank heavens then for Tootsie, a 'drag' comedy that manages to get things right, and one of the first that didn't play for the obvious laughs all the time.

Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) is an out-of-work actor who has exhausted every acting opportunity in both New York and Hollywood. His reputation for being difficult precedes him, and directors simply won't hire him. His flatmate has written a play for him and his girlfriend, Sandy (Teri Garr), but they just don't have the $8000 needed to produce the show. In a fit of desperate madness, Michael auditions for a role in a soap opera as a strong, yet wholesome and lovable woman, Dorothy Michaels. He succeeds beyond even his own expectations, and his infectious enthusiasm, his guiding 'feminine' wisdom and motherly influence sees him unable to escape the role he has created.

Things go from good, to great, to difficult and then totally unmanageable. To say any more will spoil it for any Tootsie virgins, so if you have managed to avoid this film for whatever reason, then avoid it no longer.

Tootsie succeeds where so many forerunners have failed. It has a first rate cast, fine performances, a solid script and most importantly, attention to detail. Even more importantly, there is absolutely no suggestion anywhere in the film that Michael is anything more than a desperate actor who gets caught up in his own hoodwink. There is never any suggestion that he is gay, or a woman trapped in a man's body, or has a 'mother-complex', or is in any way a sicko. He is simply an actor doing what he does best in order to get work, and to raise the money he needs to produce his flatmate's play.

The continuity is wonderful, and Michael's inability to keep his mouth shut as a man, is equally as evident in Dorothy. There are some obvious laughs, some unexpected ones, and some rather ludicrous situations for Michael/Dorothy to navigate. The direction from Sydney Pollack is excellent, the pace of the film is spot on, the comedic timing is brilliant, and there are no cringeworthy lines or cliches.

The film may have aged slightly, but this is one time when it doesn't matter. This situation is something every struggling actor still has to face, and while not all will go to these lengths, the results are both amusing and heartwarming. This film was fun the first time, and still manages to get several decent belly laughs. This is a fine comedy that earned ten Oscar nominations in 1983, including 'Best Picture'. It is also a fine piece of drama, and if you haven't yet had the pleasure, this DVD is now the perfect excuse to do just that.

  Video
Contract

This is a relatively good transfer. Presented in the original aspect ratio and 2.35:1 and 16:9 enhanced, this comes across better than it ever has on television or video. There are several key scenes that really work much better in widescreen, such as the argument between Michael and Sandy at the kitchen table, and several of the 'studio' shots where the soap opera that Dorothy Michaels ends up in is filmed.

Overall the film has a slightly soft image, though this works well and is typical of films from the late '70s and early '80s. Colours are generally good, though a few scenes look a little aged, and coupled with the era's fascination for pastels, is not going to win any awards. There is some very slight evidence of colour bleeding, but you will need to be looking for it to be distracted from the film. Skin tones are generally fine, however, and black levels, while not brilliant, are acceptable and constant. Shadow detail is fine, though some scenes fare worse than others do.

On the plus side, there are very few film artefacts apart from a few white speckles and some very infrequent black marks. These are very minor and are not distracting. There is no evidence of film to video artefacts, and things such as shimmer are non-existent, even though there are several places where this should have been severe.

This is a dual layer disc, but I could barely detect the layer change at 70.22.

  Audio
Contract

There is a choice of five audio tracks, though the only Dolby Digital 5.0 option is English. The French, German, Italian, and Spanish language tracks are all in Dolby Digital 1.0 mono, and even though this is a subtle 5.0 audio, it does not sound as good in mono.

The majority of the audio comes from the front speakers, with the vocals placed clearly in the centre speaker. Rear speakers are used mostly for music, and some very infrequent and subtle ambient sounds.

Low-level sounds are not overly aggressive, and even though this is a 5.0 mix, I did notice the subwoofer occasionally getting in on the action during some of the louder accompanying background songs.

There are no problems with audio clarity or synchronisation, and even though it is a 5.0 audio, is not overly impressive or aggressive. It does what it has to do, and sounds fine doing it.

  Extras
Contract

There's only a fairly lame collection of extras, which is a bit of a shame. A commentary may have thrown up some interesting trivia and anecdotes, but alas, it was not to be. You do get four selected Filmographies for Sydney Pollack, Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, and Bill Murray. Each is simply one screen of easy to read text.

The other extras areTrailers for Tootsie, Peggy Sue Got Married, and Fools Rush In. Each is full frame, rather marked and dark in appearance, and run for 1:20, 2:07, and 2:28 minutes respectively. Each is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. Interestingly, the Tootsie trailer contains some scenes that are not in the actual movie.

  Overall  
Contract

It's hard to find fault with this movie, though some will try, and maybe even succeed. If you can accept that the premise is a little unlikely, and that this is nothing more than a fine cast having fun with a great script, and providing some pretty clever laughs, then you'll love it. Leave any preconceptions you may have about men in drag at the door, and you too will find that this film will reward you with some good laughs and a warm fuzzy feeling - or is that just five o'clock shadow?


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      And I quote...
    "Proving that a man in a dress can be funny for all the right reasons - and not a limp wrist in sight... "
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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