"Tootsie" is the second comedy within a 2 week period that involves a male character forced to dress as a woman - the other being the 5/22 title "Some Like It Hot". Although that 1959 feature did provide better comedic performances and some better gags, neither picture is going to go on my list of favorites. Still, "Tootsie" is at least a moderately entertaining effort from star Dustin Hoffman and director Sydney Pollack.
Hoffman stars as Michael Dorsey, a talented actor who has found himself stuck in the middle of small-time productions due to his reputation of having a temper and not being easy to work with. He decides to try for a role on a soap opera - the only problem is that the role is for a woman. He dresses up as "Dorothy" - while this solves his problem of work, it makes for complications with the women in his life (Teri Garr, Jessica Lange).
The film is really livened by it's performances. Hoffman is at his best here, as is Bill Murray and Teri Garr in funny supporting performances. The screenplay is a collaborative effort between a talented group, including Larry Gelbart ("M.A.S.H", "Bedazzled") and uncredited work by Elane May and Barry Levinson; some of the jokes work terrifically, but there are also some moments that go for rather sitcom-style laughter. The film's pace could use a little quickening - there are a few moments throughout that could have been edited out.
The film's technical credits are also generally good - cinematographer Owen Roizman provides fine cinematography, capturing a great deal of information within the 2.35:1 frame. Dave Grusin's score has not aged well - it is very 80's-sounding.
"Tootsie" is a fine film - it's got good performances and a few solid laughs, but I still don't really understand what the fuss over it is all about.
VIDEO: "Tootsie" is presented in both a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen edition and a pan and scan edition. It's obvious that a lot of information is going to be missing from the pan & scan version of this film in the way that details really are made to fill the frame on many shots. Quickly skipping through the pan & scan version after reviewing the widescreen edition revealed that I was correct.
Anyways, the widescreen version didn't look spectacular, but for a movie that's starting to get up there in years, it looked very good. Sharpness and detail appeared fine, if not impressive - some interior scenes fell slightly on the softer side, but definitely not in a big way. Some dimly lit scenes appeared a tiny bit undefined, as well.
The presentation's only real flaw was related to the age of the movie. Some minor instances of grain and some small print flaws such as slight marks and speckles were really the only problems that I noticed. Colors were not presented in a vibrant or bright manner, but appeared natural and accurate, with no concerns. This is not an exceptional looking presentation, but it was a more than satisfying one from the studio. Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai.
SOUND: "Tootsie" is presented in both it's original mono soundtrack and a new Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation. I appreciate that a new 5.1 presentation was provided as I'm sure it's not an easy task, but as with all mono presentations, there's not much to be expanded upon. Mainly, this effort pulls the music and slight ambient sounds slightly outwards from the center across the front, but there's really nothing in the way of surround use.
Audio quality was fine for a 19 year old picture. The previously mentioned very 80's sounding score by Dave Grusin came through (too) clearly, and what little ambient details there was to the sound also were noticable. Dialogue also generally remained easily heard, with few concerns.
MENUS:: Menus are non-animated, with basic film-themed images as backgrounds.
EXTRAS: Production notes, trailers for Hook, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day are included along with filmographies. I'm suprised that there was no "look-back" documentary or commentary track. Neither the director or star are strangers to commentary tracks (Pollack has done one for "Random Hearts" and Hoffman did a partial one for "Sphere"), either.
Final Thoughts: Fans of "Tootsie" will be pleased that the film looks and sounds fine here, although the lack of extras will be less satisfying. Personally, I'm not a fan of the film, but I think it's good enough to make for a couple of hours of passable entertainment.
The Film ***
Video 86/B = (344/400 possible points)
Audio: 82/B = (328/400 possible points)
Extras: 70/C- = (210/300 possible points)
Menus: 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 81/B = (243/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: ***
DVD GRADE: C+