Miss Congeniality

As star-driven vehicles in which the leads have to get in touch with their feminine side go, this comedy doesn't have much up on WHAT WOMEN WANT, even though that film's seeker of inner softness was Mel Gibson. Hard-as-nails Gracie Hart (the ever-appealing Sandra Bullock) lives for her job as an FBI agent. After a de rigeur opening action...read more

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Reviewed by Steve Simels
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As star-driven vehicles in which the leads have to get in touch with their

feminine side go, this comedy doesn't have much up on WHAT WOMEN WANT, even

though that film's seeker of inner softness was Mel Gibson. Hard-as-nails

Gracie Hart (the ever-appealing Sandra Bullock) lives for her job as an FBI

agent. After a de rigeur opening action sequence, Hart learns that a

Unabomer-type terrorist has threatened to blow up the upcoming Miss United

States beauty pageant, and she's the only suitable agent to go undercover as a

contestant. Gracie never wears dresses, doesn't own a hair brush and puts down

pageant participants as "bikini stuffers who only want world peace." But this

being a movie, there's no real problem. The Feds hire has-been pageant

consultant Victor Melling (Michael Caine) to give Hart a crash makeover, and

presto: She's not only one of the girls, but a plausible contender for the

contest's ultimate prize. And she bags the baddie, high heels and tight skirts

notwithstanding. Some of the backstage things-falling-apart stuff is

reasonably funny, in a NIGHT AT THE OPERA-ish sort of way. But the movie is plagued by rampant implausibilities, from the identity of the villain(s) to

the incredible speed of Bullock's ugly duckling-to-swan transformation. In

fact, the script (two of whose auteurs have obvious roots in TV) seems

predicated on the notion that today's audiences will tolerate just about any

kind of plot hole, continuity lapse, or "I don't think so" moment.

Fortunately, the actors are almost good enough to make you forget such

concerns while you're watching. Caine's characterization could have lapsed

into gay caricature, but never does; Candice Bergen sparkles as the

shark-toothed pageant producer, who may have a hidden agenda; and William

Shatner's comic timing helps him nearly steal the picture, despite his

underwritten part as a Bert Parks-like emcee.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: As star-driven vehicles in which the leads have to get in touch with their feminine side go, this comedy doesn't have much up on WHAT WOMEN WANT, even though that film's seeker of inner softness was Mel Gibson. Hard-as-nails Gracie Hart (the… (more)

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