Dorothy Michaels: Oh I know what y’all really want is some gross, caricature of a woman to prove some idiotic point that power makes a woman masculine, or masculine women are ugly. Well shame on you for letting a man do that, or any man that does that.
R: A couple of times.
F: Yes just once though.
R: Is there something problematic about the women in this film relying on a man to be their feminist crusader? Quite probably. But this is a riotously funny film, so I’ll defend it from anyone who suggests it’s spoiled by mansplaining (a term I don’t think existed in 1982).
F: Perhaps – there is a history of men pretending to be women in film and theatre. We’ve got Some Like It Hot to come of course! I do think this film is very funny and a great piece of escapism cinema. But is it really the 69th best American film of all time?
R: We ask at the end of each of these posts whether a film is “worthy”, and I think it’s often harder to apply that word to comedy then drama. But this has so many superbly executed laugh out loud moments. It might justify it’s place on the list purely on the basis of Bill Murray’s facial expressions.
F: I guess it’s true of most films but I really could have done with more Bill Murray in this. The scenes between him and Dustin Hoffman are by far the best in the film. Genuine laugh out loud moments!
R: “Could have done with more Bill Murray” is certainly something I’d say about a lot of films! But Hoffman is also mighty impressive in this. Not only is his comic timing spot on, but in what is a pretty preposterous story, his performance is plausabile enough to keep things grounded in reality. I think that’s the reason a lot of the jokes are so funny.
F: Yes Dustin Hoffman is really great in this. I really enjoyed the farcical elements as well. When we as the audience are in on a joke that the characters aren’t it can make for some great comedic moments! What about things you weren’t so keen on? The 80s soundtrack for me is pretty dodgy!
R: Some of the music is cheesy for sure, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. While some of the humour is quite timeless, the film probably makes most sense viewed as a period piece, reflecting the issues coming to the boil at the start of the 80s (quite like The Apartment does for the 60s). That growing pain when music first met computers and digital technology is a big, brash part of that, and – I’ll be honest – a guilty pleasure I find very easy to enjoy.
F: I find it takes me out of the film at times. But have found myself humming the little tune they repeat throughout! I find this is a film that definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously which is why I am still surprised to see it on this list.
R: You say that, but arguably it’s much tougher to engage with weighty issues with a light touch than it is in some very earnest drama, and this film does have some serious points to make about gender politics. I also think this film’s reputation can only be enhanced in the wake of Mrs Doubtfire (1993), which showed how easily a premise like this can be ruined by getting too schmaltzy and sentimental. Do you have a favourite scene?
F: I actually quite like Mrs Doubtfire! But only because I would argue Robin Williams is a better comedian than Dustin Hoffman (although no question as to who is the better actor). I do quite like the photo shoot montage! Looks a lot of fun! What about you?
R: You like the cheesy 80s montage but not the music?! Madness! For me one of the best scenes is the audition where we get our first proper look at Dorothy. It builds so perfectly, the laughs come thick and fast, and it’s a glorious start to the second act. Also: all the scenes with Bill Murray.
F: Well I found the montage fun and the music a bit grating. Agree though they are all 80s trademarks. I think my overall feeling of this film is fun! It’s lighthearted and almost guaranteed to put you in a good mood.
Is it worthy of the top 100?
R: It’s hilarious. Yes.
F: I really enjoyed it and would recommend people watch it but I still don’t think it’s quite up there with other films on this list. Regretfully it’s a no from me.