It speaks volumes about how serious Dustin Hoffman took the laffer “Tootsie” that he visibly chokes up discussing his gender-bending role in a special edition DVD release celebrating the film’s 25th anni. This new package (a barebones disc was released in 2001) helps the film maintain its ageless appeal but a few more extras would’ve gone a long way in paying homage to Sydney Pollack’s comedic masterpiece.
Sony has fashioned a rather paltry supplement to the film, including some brief, but amusing, deleted scenes and a lengthy, three-part docu that mixes vintage and modern-day interviews.
In contempo chats, Hoffman, Pollack and the other players (including co-stars Dabney Coleman and Teri Garr) have a fondness for the film that appears genuine, not the usual publicity-speak pablum. An especially candid Jessica Lange admits she didn’t think she could hold her own against such well-known comedy actors. Clearly, as she won the Oscar for the role, she pulled it off — and then some.
Hoffman revels in revisiting his part as a cross-dressing soap star and hilariously details a real-life scenario where — in full “Tootsie” drag — he approached his “Midnight Cowboy” co-star Jon Voight in a restaurant, fooling him into thinking he was a infatuated female fan.
The docu chapter entitled “Keep It Real” persuasively argues that making a comedy is very serious business, especially with a star so devoted to the material (Hoffman devised the idea with scribes Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal) and a director previously known for making dramas. Also given a tremendous amount of credit for the film’s success is Elaine May, who went uncredited as a writer. According to the talking heads, she was responsible for fleshing out Hoffman’s role and adding some essential elements to the story (including his roommate, memorably essayed by Bill Murray).
Some original screen test footage provides a glimpse into Hoffman’s transformation (both physical and mental) into the role of a woman auditioning for an acting part.
Missing is an audio commentary from Pollack, which was included on the coveted 1992 Criterion laserdisc. His perspective here would’ve made for a much more comprehensive package.
With so few extras, this “Tootsie” feels like just another DVD dressed up as a special edition.