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Blu-ray Review Tootsie Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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Tootsie Blu-ray Review

1982 was a year which offered moviegoers two memorable gender-bending comedies: Blake Edwards’ Victor/Victoria and Sydney Pollack’s Tootsie. Though Edwards’ film was more farcical in nature and dealt more pointedly with gender roles and sexual orientation, Pollack’s Tootsie was more grounded in reality with less eccentric characters and a more focused interest in exploring how a gender masquerade could positively affect a person in a way to make him a better and more knowing individual. Tootsie was also by far the bigger hit and is a film that plays just as entertainingly today as it did on first release.



Studio: Criterion

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Audio: English PCM 1.0 (Mono)

Subtitles: English SDH

Rating: PG

Run Time: 1 Hr. 56 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

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Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 12/16/2014

MSRP: $39.95




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

Dedicated but obnoxious actor Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) has gotten to the point where he can’t find employment on either coast so obsessive is he with his fierce insistence on his own ideas about performance. When he preps his actress pal Sandy Lester (Teri Garr) for an audition for the role of a tough-minded, fierce hospital administrator on a popular daytime soap, her rejection spurs him to try for the role on his own masquerading himself as independent and feisty actress Dorothy Michaels, and he lands the job. Dorothy’s take-charge attitude is a pain to the show's director (Dabney Coleman) but an inspiration to dewy-eyed, somewhat defeated co-star Julie Nichols (Jessica Lange). In fact, Dorothy becomes a national celebrity with her tempered, dynamic woman character, winning the interest of both aging roué John Van Horn (George Gaynes) and Julie’s widowed father (Charles Durning). By then, Michael realizes he may have taken the masquerade a bit too far, but his agent (Sydney Pollack) can’t think of a way out of Dorothy’s contract, and Michael doesn’t want to hurt people he’s come to care about by revealing the truth.

The script is attributed to Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal though the set’s bonus features reveal that Elaine May had a major hand in fashioning the story particularly with regards to the female characters. Regardless of who’s responsible, the story plays like a dream with a smooth, flowing scenario that springs plot events out of character in the very best tradition of the top comedies. Apart from two moments of farce (Michael in character as Dorothy attempting to babysit Julie’s toddler shown in a funny montage and a later rough and tumble moment when Michael in full drag with his roommate Jeff (Bill Murray) must quickly change before friend Sandy comes barging through the door), the movie really is a warm comedy of manners as Michael slowly comes to understand tolerance and selflessness through his characterization as Dorothy, and his effect on others likewise makes him realize the qualities that Dorothy possesses are those he should incorporate into his own life. Sydney Pollack had never directed a comedy before (he earned the New York Film Critics Circle award for his direction), but you’d never know it from the seamless way scenes flow from one to another (only a “Tootsie” montage that shows the character’s instantaneous capturing of America’s fancy is kind of hard to swallow for a soap character) and the way that an almost two hour film doesn’t seem for one second the least bit overlong. Pollack also accomplished this while acting with great surety the role of Michael’s harassed agent George Fields handling the comic moments such as an argument about Michael’s performance as a tomato or his first introduction to Dorothy at the Russian Tea Room with frenzied amazement and good humor.

Dustin Hoffman, of course, is in his element both as the obnoxious, driven Michael Dorsey (a character allegedly based on his own obsessive tendencies to be difficult and demanding with directors) and the softer but equally assertive (with reservations) Dorothy Michaels. His performance earned him both a Golden Globe and the National Society of Film Critics prize as Best Actor. Jessica Lange as the dreamy actress unconvinced of her own worth due to a philandering boy friend earned both of those awards as well as the New York Film Critics prize and the Oscar in one of her breakout performances of 1982 (she was also Oscar-nominated for Frances). Teri Garr handles the heavy comedy chores as the neurotic actress trying to make it in such a highly competitive business, and she’s outstanding in perhaps her best film role. Charles Durning is sweetly charming as the widower awakening to love again while Dabney Coleman etches another of his smarmy chauvinists as the cheating, ego-driven director. Bill Murray plays Hoffman’s polar opposite as a playwright who takes life with a much slower and steadier pace without the high drama, and George Gaynes gets quite a few laughs as the soap's aging lothario (newcomer Geena Davis as an actress on the soap set coos “We call him “The Tongue”) with plans of his own for Dorothy. Along with Davis, look fast to see Lynne Thigpen and Christine Ebersole in small but effective cameos.



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The film’s original Panavision 2.40:1 aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Apart from a shot which seems unusually soft and milky for no reason, sharpness is first-rate with exquisite detail in hair, clothes, and facial features. Color values are wonderful with solid saturation levels that don’t go overboard and skin tones that are natural and appealing. Black levels are also excellent. The film has been divided into 26 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The PCM 1.0 (1.1 Mbps) sound mix is very emblematic of the sound design of the era. The dialogue has been expertly recorded and is never compromised by Dave Grusin’s wonderful score (which contains the lovely Oscar-nominated song “It Might Be You”) or the sound effects which do a fine job representing New York City indoors and out. The mix does seem at times to be a bit bass deficient, but that’s the only lapse in an otherwise first-rate aural presentation.



Special Features Rating: 5/5

Audio Commentary: director Sydney Pollack offers an interesting and thorough discussion of the film’s production showing justifiable pride in making his first comedy.

Dustin Hoffman Interview (18:03, HD): a 2014 interview finds the actor reminiscing about making the film, choking up a few times as he recalls moments of the filming which still have a special meaning for him.

Phil Rosenthal Interview (15:37, HD): a 2014 interview with the producer of Everybody Loves Raymond allows him to dissect the movie to find reasons why it continues to work so brilliantly all these years after its first release.

Gene Shalit Interviews Dorothy Michaels (4:25, HD): an ad-libbed interview between the Today critic and Hoffman in character (used only in stills in the finished movie).

The Making of Tootsie (33:42, HD): a 1982 documentary directed by Randy Lang showing behind-the-scenes decision making with director Pollack about casting and story ideas and featuring sound bites from Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Bill Murray, and Teri Garr.

A Better Man: The Making of Tootsie (1:08:00, HD) a 2007 look back at the making of the film featuring clips from the 1982 documentary and 2007 interviews with actors Hoffman, Murray, Lange, Garr, and Dabney Coleman, director Pollack, and writers Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal.

Deleted Scenes (10:21, HD): nine scenes presented in montage.

Screen and Wardrobe Tests (6:45, HD): initial character and costume tests with Hoffman and original director Hal Ashby and showing the evolution of the make-up for the character.

Trailers (HD): three trailers which run 1:24, 1:02, and 1:00 respectively.

Enclosed Pamphlet: contains cast and crew lists, information on the transfer, and film critic Michael Sragow’s laudatory essay on the movie.

Timeline: can be pulled up from the menu or by pushing the red button on the remote. It shows you your progress on the disc, the title of the chapter you’re now in, and index markers for the commentary that goes along with the film, all of which can be switched on the fly. Additionally, two other buttons on the remote can place or remove bookmarks if you decide to stop viewing before reaching the end of the film or want to mark specific places for later reference.



Overall Rating: 4.5/5

One of the all-time great comedies, one which plays as entertainingly and tellingly today as it did more than three decades ago, Tootsie comes to Blu-ray in a handsome Criterion package with sterling picture and sound and a tremendous load of bonus materials. Highly recommended!


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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Ronald Epstein

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Matt,


Thanks for your review.


Happened to watch this film this morning.


Some history...


Tootsie was one of those films that played over and over countless

times on cable tv during its boom in the early 80s. For that reason,

I kind of got burned out on the film and stopped thinking about it for

well over 20 years.


Bought it on DVD, but I never opened the shrinkwrap. Had no intention

of ever watching it again. Just wanted to own it for its cinematic importance.

As Matt pointed out in his review, it is one of the all-time greatest comedies.


So, while in my local Costco the other day, I bought it for a steal.


Watching it today, I had really forgotten what a great film this was. I believe

that Bill Murray took an uncredited role in this film. I could be wrong about

that, but his name is certainly isn't even on the original movie poster.


In any event, the transfer is excellent. Certainly lives up to Criterion's standards.

Haven't had the chance to dive into the extras, but looking forward to the Dustin

Hoffman makeup tests.
 

Ruz-El

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Nice review as always. I haven't seen this one since the VHS days, and that was only once. Looking forward to picking this one up during the next sale. Looks like a kitchen sink style release too, with all those documentaries!
 

Matt Hough

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Ron, my experience with the movie was similar to yours. I had the DVD in shrink wrap on my shelf for years and hadn't revisited it at all thinking I had seen it enough. On seeing it again, I was most surprised by Jessica Lange's work.

I had always thought that she got the Oscar for this film as a kind of consolation prize because the Academy members wanted to honor her for her outstanding work in Frances but didn't want to deny Meryl Streep the Oscar that year. (Teri Garr believes this to be true to this day.) But watching the movie again yesterday, I saw that I had undervalued her work before. Her role is much, much larger than I remembered, and much more intricate and delicate in tone than I remembered. Now I understand how she EARNED that award.
 

Virgoan

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I'll state that I love "Tootsie", but I admit that when I first saw it in a theater I was a bit underwhelmed. Same with "Victor, Victoria". Today, I love both very much. I do not think that "Tootsie" had "less eccentric characters." Most of the characters are extremely eccentric...Bill Murray, Teri Garr, George Gaynes and even Charles Durning (who had no ability to read body language at all). Most eccentric of all is Dustin Hoffman who truly created a brilliant character in Dorothy but whose Michael Dorsey was pretty messed up and uninteresting to me.


Hoffman is a very hit or miss actor for me. Here, he hits most of the time as Dorothy....and once again late in the film as Michael having a streetside exchange with Jessica Lange.


"Victor, Victoria" needs to be on Blu ray....sooner rather than later. I love it that we got both those films in one year.
 

Joseph DeMartino

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I loved this movie from the first time I saw it, and it also became a favorite of one of my nieces. (Her sister prefers The Princess Bride, but at least they both grew up exposed to good movies. ;-)) Am delighted it is on Blu Ray and will definitely order it via the HTF/Amazon link. (Got Running Scared the same way last week.)


Another comedy with a gender twist from a couple of years later needs a Blu Ray release: All of Me, the terrific Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin comedy from Carl Reiner. Martin practically acts both his and Tomlin's characters for 1/2 the film and if there were any justice he would have won an Oscar for the role. The least we could get is a BD release to replace the horrendous barebones Full Screen DVD. (The framing absolutely kills one of my favorite visual gags in the film.)


Finally replaced my 12 yr old 56" 720p JVC LCoS rear-projection TV with the single HDMI port with a 60" Samsung SmarTV on Monday, my Christmas present to myself, so I'm very motivated to get back to watching Blu Rays. (So far I've binge-watched the Marvel Phase One silver briefcase set & Guardians of the Galaxy. ;-))


Later,


Joe
 

Neil Middlemiss

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Joseph DeMartino said:
Another comedy with a gender twist from a couple of years later needs a Blu Ray release: All of Me, the terrific Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin comedy from Carl Reiner. Martin practically acts both his and Tomlin's characters for 1/2 the film and if there were any justice he would have won an Oscar for the role. The least we could get is a BD release to replace the horrendous barebones Full Screen DVD. (The framing absolutely kills one of my favorite visual gags in the film.)

All of Me is a terrific film and one that absolutely deserves a respectable release. I've it since I first saw it and would instantly pick up a release on Blu (so I can ditch my crappy DVD.)
 

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