I haven’t seen this film in years but I have seen it several times as I realised when I watched it on DVD and found myself anticipating many of the scenes and the funny moments and lines. It has aged quite well and I actually like Bill Murray this time. Dustin Hoffman is utterly fantastic as Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels. However, it is too long, I found it a bit boring in parts and the music and songs were...dated.
The film examines gender roles and expectations but fails to maintain consistency. Many of the problems that women face were picked up but then left dangling. This is most notable in the case of Sandy who is treated thoughtlessly, dishonestly and carelessly but is not given any closure. How are we supposed to believe Michael will behave better towards Julie (“but I was a better man with you, as a woman than I ever was with a woman, as a man”) when we have seen how he treated Sandy while he was busy being this wonderful man as Dorothy? He even sleeps with Sandy because he would rather do that than tell her the truth.
Revolting predatory behaviour by an elderly male actor is portrayed as commonplace sexual harassment and the step-up to rape is seen as a natural progression. I believe that we are still supposed to think that John Van Horn is not unequivocally repulsive but amusingly and misguidedly mistaken.
Another thing that irritated me was that Julie’s father got an apology from Michael while Sandy got nothing and, not only that, he got to moan about how he could have done without the dancing when it was he who had forced Dorothy to dance with him.
Finally, Dorothy was lucky to get away with so much ad-libbing in the hectic world of soap opera and I love how there was not a writer to be seen anywhere near the studio.