A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tootsie touches on issues such as having children out of wedlock, alcoholism, and homosexuality (much of which is mistakenly assumed during moments of cross-dressing). While these issues may seem mature, the film uses each sparingly and as a means to illustrate growth in its characters. While the storyline puts Michael (and his alter-ego Dorothy) in compromising situations, it also leads to good clean fun and personal discoveries about respect for one's self and others.
What's the story?
TOOTSIE follows the story of Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman), an out-of-work and disagreeable New York actor who disguises himself as a woman to win a plumb role in a daytime soap opera. Ultimately, Michael gets more than a steady paying job. The nation embraces his screen alter-ego Dorothy as a strong female role model. Michael quickly learns a little about what life is like for the opposite sex. As he melds his adversarial demeanor with Dorothy's on- and off-screen personae, he simultaneously finds his womanhood, manhood, and love.
Is it any good?
This is a raucously funny, yet touching film (that includes one of the best uses of a corncob in the history of motion pictures). Before Mrs. Doubtfire donned a dress, Dustin Hoffman made a splash on the big screen as Dorothy Michaels (née Michael Dorsey) in Tootsie. Aside from classic performances by Hoffman, Jessica Lange, and Teri Garr, the film features underrated turns by Bill Murray as Michael's playwright roommate and Charles Durning as a man bitten by Dorothy's feminine wiles. The humor and subject matter stand the test of time quite well. It's truly worth watching for teens and adults.
Nominated for 10 Academy Awards (including a win for Jessica Lange), the comedy entered into the feminist fray at the height of the push for the Equal Rights Amendment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Michael's changes in attitude and treatment of women early in Tootsie versus the end. While the movie may be over 20 years old, it still has something important to say about representations of women on television.
How does Tootsie address themes of honesty, homosexuality, and gender equality? Parents could talk to kids about how such representations have changed or remained the same since the film's production.
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