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Movie Reviews

Miss Congeniality  

Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock)
Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt)
Victor Melling (Michael Caine)
Stan Fields (William Shatner)
Kathy Morningside (Candice Bergen)
Directed by Donald Petrie Written by Caryn Lucas, Katie Ford and Marc Lawrence
Rated PG-13 for sexual references, language, violence
Running Time: 105 minutes Distributed by Warner Brothers
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Miss Congeniality is for the most part an amusing beauty pageant comedy. Gracie Hart (Bullock) is a “tough-as-nails” FBI agent that is easily considered one of the guys on the force. She is called into a new type of undercover work after a bomber has eyed the Miss United States pageant for the next act of terrorism. Gracie must go undercover as one of the contestants in the pageant and try to reveal the "who" and whereabouts of the bomber. The transition to being a contestant is uneasy for Gracie, so the FBI hires pageant consultant Victor Melling (Caine) to revamp Gracie into a beautiful and socialized contestant. The closer Gracie comes to finding the bomber, the more comfortable she becomes with her new look and style.

Miss Congeniality is one of those comedies that is not superior in many elements, but the movie is totally fun. Caryn Lucas, Katie Ford and Marc Lawrence wrote the script for Miss Congeniality. I found the story to be a spoof of beauty pageants mixed in with the recognizable story of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. The script’s main character is predictable, as is much of the film, but you still love her because of all of her quirky tactics. On the other hand, the supporting characters are very original and add a good blend of humor from many different angles. Examples are the pageant consultant Victor Melling, who lives for the beauty crown and the perfection. Then there is Stan Fields, who is the pageant host that reminded me a lot of Dick Clark and Wayne Newton. The jokes and character actions of Miss Congeniality overshadow all the clichés and most of the predictability in the film. This script reminded me of the way Meet the Parents was written, in which it is something that you have seen before, but the characters and jokes will keep you laughing.

Also like Meet the Parents, the direction of this comedy is modest and nothing special. Director Donald Petrie for the most part let his actors rip with the jokes and some scenes that seemed to improvise by Bullock. Petrie does hold you attention and captures the glamour of beauty pageant contests. There are some corny scenes in this film, but Petrie sews them up discreetly.

Sandra Bullock gives one of her best performances as the FBI agent turned pageant contestant Gracie Hart. Bullock’s comedic acting is genuine and full of energy. In the future, I hope she will continue to grasp roles like this one, because this performance proves she is capable of doing comedy. Michael Caine steals every scene that he is in as the perfectionist consultant Victor Melling. Caine is such a great character actor that lets his facial and body language shape his character, who is either always teaching or analyzing. William Shatner returns to the silver screen and serves up a comical performance as the pageant host Stan Fields. Lastly, Benjamin Bratt does a decent job as Gracie’s fellow FBI agent, Eric.

Miss Congeniality is a movie that I really couldn’t say too much about, except that it is funny. Like previous funny films this year (Meet the Parents), this film has fresh humor, predictability, but most of all entertaining.

Report Card Grade: B-

Beastman’s Movie Reviews
Copyright, 2001 Joseph C. Tucker

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