Tootsie (1982)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Geena Davis, Charles Durning
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Talent Files

On the surface, ’Tootsie’ may appear like a simple cross-dressing fun, material for straight-out laughs and mockery. Upon closer scrutiny however it quickly becomes obvious that ’Tootsie’ is in fact much more of a social study and commentary than a flat-out comedy. Ultimately it is what gives the film its appeal and of course if longevity, as it still is a highly touted and admired movie. No doubt, Dustin Hoffman’s performance as Michael Dorsey, a hapless actor who desperately needs a job, only helps to lend credibility to the subject matter without turning the main character into a drag queen.

Columbia Tristar Home Video is presenting ’Tootsie’ in its original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio on this DVD in a transfer that is enhanced for 16×9 TV sets, as well as in a pan&scan presentation on the disc’s flip-side. The transfer is generally clean and stable, although the subdued color scheme of the film itself clearly gives away its age. Nonetheless, colors are rendered faithfully with natural fleshtones and good-looking colors. Blacks are deep and well-delineated shadows give depth to the picture. However, once again Columbia TriStar went a little overboard with the edge-enhancement on this release. (What’s with that lately? Columbia’s DVDs used to be among the best in the market and in recent times the studio keeps degrading its video presentation by adding distracting edge-enhancement to the majority of their transfers.) The compression is very good and no noticeably compression artifacts can be found in this presentation.

’Tootsie’ features a newly remixed 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio track as well as the movie’s original mono track. Although the 5.1 channel mix is wider in the front, surround usage is basically non-existent. Both tracks have a dated quality, like the video, with limited dynamics and a noticeably restricted frequency response. I am surprised the track has not been re-equalized and expanded during the remix, creating a more contemporary sounding presentation. Nonetheless, either track is adequate, although unexciting. A number of trailers and Talent Files round out this release.

This is a nice presentation ’Tootsie’ and allows viewers to revisit the critical story of the gender conflict in all its beauty. The DVD may be Spartan in its extras and there may be some limitations to the overall presentation, but I still highly recommend this release, simply because I feel the film itself has some weight and some important things to say about ourselves.