Tootsie: 25th Anniversary Edition Sydney Pollack

Tootsie survived the cinematic wasteland of the Hollywood ’80s to endure as one of the funniest and most perceptive comedies of all time. Its staying power lies in the way it dramatises the battles of the sexes: an actor discovers that being a woman makes him a better man. This new DVD, adding an excellent hour-long documentary, is an overdue upgrade over the previous bare-bones release. New York actor Michael (Dustin Hoffman) is so difficult to work with that he can land a job only by disguising himself as a woman. Donning a dress, padded bra and make-up, Michael Dorsey wins a regular spot on a hospital soap opera, then becomes an overnight sensation as Dorothy Michaels. He falls for his co-star, played by Jessica Lange (who won an Oscar for her performance), and fools everybody, from his salty agent (director Pollack) to his droll roommate (a hilarious Bill Murray), neurotic girlfriend (the reliable Teri Garr) and everyone working on the show. That includes chauvinistic soap director Dabney Coleman, bit player Geena Davis (in her first role) and Charles Durning, who plays Lange’s father, who falls for Michael, er, um, Dorothy. If Hoffman is sensational in his dual role, then his supporting players are brilliant. The hour-long featurette "A Better Man” features recent interviews by the key cast and crew starting with Hoffman, who first proposed a film about a man who becomes a woman. This evolved into Tootsie and led to Larry Gelbart (M*A*S*H*), Elaine May (of legendary comedy duo Nichols and May) and Murray Schisgal penning a hilarious but smart script. Director Pollack admits that he isn’t the funniest guy on the planet but was wise enough to let the truth seep from the script into the performances and onto film. Some deleted scenes are amusing but nothing more. More revealing is the first screen test of Hoffman in drag, where he still hasn’t found the Dorothy’s voice. The DVD lacks audio commentary but the documentary is so dense that one might be unnecessary. Though sexual mores have evolved since the movie’s 1982 release, Tootsie still challenges the viewer’s perceptions about gender. And makes us laugh. (Sony)