The Critics' Corner: TOOTSIE
Tuesday May, 28 2019 at 11:45 PM
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"Mr. Pollack and the writers of the screenplay have taken a wildly improbable situation and found just about all of its comic possibilities, not by exaggerating the obvious but by treating it with inspired common sense." - Vincent Canby, New York Times, December 17, 1982
"It is not just the best comedy of the year; it is popular art on the way to becoming a cultural artifact." - Time, December 1982
"Tootsie sounds as if one superb comedy writer had done it all...[It] has what the best screwball comedies had...[Hoffman] gives a master actor's performance: he's playing three characters and they're shaped so that Dorothy fits inside Michael and Emily fits inside Dorothy. Even Hoffman's self-consciousness as an actor works in this performance..." - Pauline Kael, The New Yorker, December 27, 1982
"Tootsie is a lulu. Remarkably funny and entirely convincing, film pulls off the rare accomplishment of being an in-drag comedy which also emerges with three-dimensional characters." - Variety, January 1983
"The kind of project that could have turned into a disaster, one that might have elicited "What-could-they-have-been-thinking?" responses. But it works beautiful...Film has many hilarious scenes, others touch emotions." - Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic.
"It's jaunty, witty, and somehow satisfying despite being simple. Perhaps its strength comes from how it isn't just a star vehicle for Hoffman, but more of a true ensemble comedy with Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, and particularly Dabney Coleman doing very well. Even director Sydney Pollack, in a brief appearance as Dorsey's agent, is funny and makes the role more than just a cameo." - William Gallagher, BBC, October 20, 2002
"The tone is quick-witted and appealing, with some of the smartest dialogue this side of Billy Wilder, and a wonderfully sure-footed performance from Jessica Lange...But the film never comes within a thousand miles of confronting its own implications: Hoffman's female impersonation is strictly on the level of Dame Edna Everage, and the script's assumption that 'she' would wow female audiences is at best ridiculous, at worst crassly insulting to women." - David Pirie, TimeOut.
"What Tootsie is actually about is how a modern man can be metamorphosed by feminism without anything important changing at all, for him or for the women around him. If that seems a contradiction, it is. As Dorothy Michaels is not what she seems, so, wonderful fun though it may be, neither is Tootsie." - Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times.
"America needs a lady in the age of Reagan cum liberation, and this is one of the messages of Tootsie. Funnier than farce and more forthright than camp, the film is a sensitive tuning fork for the current attitudes towards relations between the sexes and the gay community too. The send-up of the transvestite costume drama is a gentle one, yet Tootsie is mainly social romance....In the end, the audience becomes as fond of Dorothy as Hoffman does; when the charade is over one of the characters says, "I miss Dorothy." We have to admit we do too." - Marsha McCreadie, Films in Review.
"Filmgoers love Tootsie. Mainstream critics love Tootsie. Inexplicably, however, these same critics gloss over or reject the film's implicit sexism and the mixed "feminist" message that undercuts itself in deference to the system that produced the picture. It depicts women as weak, powerless, banal emotional blobs, saved only by a man's inspiring assertiveness in the guise of a soap-opera actress-heroine in designer blouses." - Deborah H. Holdstein, Jump Cut.
"Some critics are using the word "classic" when they talk about Tootsie, which shows how starved the reviewing clan is for first-rate fare. In fact, Tootsie is a lively farce with quite a few laughs - nothing more, nothing less. It might have reach classic dimensions if it explored the social and sexual ambiguities that spring from its subject matter instead of using them as mere springboards for standard movie routines." - David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor.
Awards & Honors
Tootsie was chosen in 1998 to be one of the motion pictures preserved on the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.
It won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award® for Jessica Lange.
It also received Oscar® nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress (Garr), Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Sound, Song ("All of My Life (It Might Be You)" by Dave Grusin, Alan and Marilyn Bergman).
Other honors include:
- British Academy Awards for Best Actor, Make-up; nominations for Best Film, Director, Actress (Lange), Supporting Actress (Garr), Screenplay, Costume Design, Song.
- Golden Globe Awards to Hoffman, Lange and the film; nominations for Pollack and the screenplay.
- National Society of Film Critics Awards to Hoffman, Lange, screenplay and Best Film.
- New York Film Critics Awards to Pollack, Lange and the screenplay.
- Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay.
- Writers Guild of America Award to Gelbart and Schisgal for the screenplay.
- American Cinema Editors nomination for Fredric and William Steinkamp.
Compiled by Rob Nixon & Jeff Stafford