Miss Congeniality
Q&A. Pageant host Stan Fields (Shatner) asks Gracie (Bullock) that all-important question
dir Donald Petrie
scr Marc Lawrence, Katie Ford, Caryn Lucas
with Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Benjamin Bratt, William Shatner, Candice Bergen, Ernie Hudson, John DiResta, Heather Burns, Steve Monroe, Melissa De Sousa, Deirdre Quinn, Asia DeMarcos
release US 22.Dec.00; UK 23.Mar.01
Warner 00/US 1h49
3 out of 5 stars
See also: MISS CONGENIALITY 2 (2005)
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Here's yet another mediocre comedy made hugely enjoyable by Bullock's seemingly endless charm and a sharp supporting cast. FBI agent Gracie Hart (Bullock) has always been a tough tomboy, so when she's asked by a colleague (Bratt) to go undercover in the Miss United States pageant--to thwart a terrorist bombing--she's more than a little reluctant. And the beauty contestant advisor (Caine) hired to help transform her into a beauty contestant feels like this is his biggest challenge yet, as Gracie seems to have no apparent trace of femininity. Do we have any doubts about what will happen? Does it really matter?

The sheer predictability of the story is fairly irrelevant, as the hilarious characters and situations keep us laughing from the beginning. Bullock has such excellent timing, and such a superb sense of physical comedy, that we would happily watch her (and we have!) in much worse films than this. This is Caine's best work in years as a kind of washed-up, cynical Henry Higgins; Bratt is fine as the story's male foil; and Bergen and Shatner are absolutely perfect as the pageant organiser and host, respectively. The film is jammed with verbal and visual gags that keep us distracted from the lame plot. And the feeble attempts to bring out themes of feminine empowerment and such are gentle and not remotely pushy. Even as Petrie stages the big comedy set pieces sharply, he knows that his biggest strength here is his cast, and he keeps them front and centre. While we just sit back and smile. Good fun.
themes, language, violence cert 12 6.Mar.01

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"All of us, I am sure, know the story of the Ugly Duckling who is really a swan that has not 'bloomed' yet. Sandra Bullock plays an FBI agent who has always been a nerd - a girl who got by on her brains, not her looks. While investigating a bomber called 'The Citizen', the FBI determines that the Miss United States pageant may be the next bombing target and they need a female agent to go undercover and get the inside dope on the pageant. All the female agents have been excluded, except one - and no one believes she can pull this off, including her. We enjoyed this movie - it is funny and sorta sappy, you know the ending, but have a few laughs while getting there. I doubt it will win any awards, but I think it was worth seeing." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 12.Jan.01.

2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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