Monday, January 23, 2012

Tootsie. A Review.

     During the special features Dustin Hoffman admitted this was a comedy.  That was the first it had occurred to me.  I wanted to like Tootsie a great deal; it's a classic of sorts and I wanted to be in touch with a classic.  But gosh darn it if I'm not just a little too dim to find what was so uproarious about it.
     I imagine 30 years ago, seeing Dustin Hoffman in a dress was enough to make everyone laugh.  That must be it.  All of the laughs must have come from the very premise of a man in a dress.  OH!  Now I get it.  Man in dress = hilarity.  If I have learned anything in my years of studying comedy, it should have been that.
     Except I don't actually think that's what it was.  I do think that 30 years ago, Dustin Hoffman in a dress was funnier than it is today.  We've gotten over it a bit, so I'm over reacting a tad.  And really, there was more to Dustin Hoffman in a dress then say, the asshats from Work It.  Tootsie was at least some sort of social experiment.  Dustin Hoffman seemed to take the character of Dorothy Michaels very seriously.  He was very curious about life as a woman.  Sure, he did it so he could get work (his character, not him), but he did it well and then internalized it.
     My simple initial reaction was that I didn't care for it much.  Had I seen it 30 years ago I may have felt differently.  It is definitely a tale of the changing times; being a woman in the 80s, being a man in the 80s, getting along in the 80s.  It's interesting to watch how much has changed and how much has not changed.  Perhaps the circumstances have changed, but the feelings really don't.
     I'm struck by the scene(s) where Michael Dorsey, dressed as Dorothy Michaels, watches women being treated like shit as finally sees it.  He stands up for himself and the other women and becomes a role model for them.  At first I think "that's nice" and then I think "that's sad."  There is a piece of walk-a-mile-in-someone-else's-shoes to it.  There's also a piece of it-takes-a-man.  I suppose he sums it up nicely at the end with his speech about being a woman taught him to be a better man.  And I suppose if I was a little dumb and it was 1982, I'd think that was sweet.
     It was a comedy that wasn't really very funny.  It was a comedy because it's wasn't a drama.  It was a comedy that was 2-hours long.  It wasn't a bad movie, not by any means.  It was very well done; it was well acted, well written, and well lit.  I just didn't care for it very much.

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