Case Number 16598: Small Claims Court


Anchor Bay // 2008 // 53 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // June 12th, 2009

The Charge

A revealing look at Hollywood's greatest gender-benders...

The Case

Ladies or Gentlemen is a documentary produced by the Starz cable network to explore the theatrical history of people dressing as the opposite sex at the cinema. Whether it be Robin Williams playing Mrs. Doubtfire or Gwenyth Paltrow posing as a man in Shakespeare in Love, gender bending roles are nothing new to the big screen. In fact, it always seems to assure big box office and comedy gold as long as the cross dresser is doing it for laughs or to deceive and not as a lifestyle. There's the biggest rub -- a man in a dress is funny, as long as he doesn't mean it. So I beg to ask you dear reader, how ironic is it that they got RuPaul to narrate this one?

Actually at just under an hour, this program is a nice little retrospective of reversing genders for entertainment. Celebrities and psychologists discuss why a man in a dress is so funny for audiences. It's certainly a taboo in a real world setting, but Tootsie is hilarious for the elaborate lengths Dustin Hoffman has to go to in order to barely pass as a homely woman. Men make absurd women in most Hollywood creations, and that's pure comedy. The documentary does skate into more edgy territory like Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Divine appearing in the John Waters films, but for the most part we're looking at comedies and light features.

Anchor Bay's DVD provides the feature only with nothing added. The widescreen transfer looks clear, although it depends on the age of the film from clip to clip. Some Like it Hot looks less clear than White Chicks, but you'd expect that. There is a Dolby stereo soundtrack which relays the narration, talking head comments, and film clips just fine. There's not much here, but the presentation is just fine and dandy. No extras or supplements, but there are subtitles if you need them.

Ladies or Gentlemen takes a look at gender bending from both sides of the fence, but mainly looks at comedic performances by men. It seems the safest way for people to laugh at the insecurities sexual roles bring up is to see someone mix up their wardrobe just a bit. It's an interesting topic, and this Starz documentary is worth a look if you're a fan of big men in little dresses. Just don't expect more than an hour of the wrong clothes on the right sex.

The Verdict

Guilty of producing giggles and nervous chuckles for over a century, all hail the power of a cross-dresser in comedy.

Review content copyright © 2009 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile
Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* English

Running Time: 53 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb