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Miss Congeniality

Starring Sandra Bullock and Benjamin Bratt; Michael Caine, Ernie Hudson, William Shatner and Candice Bergen
Screenplay by Marc Lawrence;
story by Lawrence & Katie Ford & Caryn Lucas
Directed by Donald Petrie

IN SHORT: Funny flick with an average story. [Rated PG-13 for sexual references and a scene of violence. 111 minutes]

Gracie Hart's (Sandra Bullock) man problems are simple. She can beat them up or she can save 'em from getting beat up -- Grace is FBI -- but men just don't seem interested in a healthy femme who: eats with her mouth open (and can carry on a fine conversation while chomping cow); goes for that all natural, matted hair pulled back look; has no need for fur as her legs have never been acquainted with a razor and who snorts when she laughs. In short, what's not to like?

Sandra Bullock pulls out all the stops in a pratfall comedy that's probably been done a dozen times before in various ways -- we had a nagging sense that we'd seen these situations before but we were laughing too hard to think straight. Yeah we admit it yet again. Put Sandra Bullock in a tight dress and we're halfway there. Give her a character to whom "dress" and "heels" are only five letter words and let her rip, well, even Lucy would be laughing.

Gracie's devotion to her job is 24/7 but when she botches an undercover gig by not following orders, fellow agent Eric Matthews ( Benjamin Bratt) gets tapped to hunt down "The Civilian," a terrorist who has left a murderous trail across these United States but doesn't know how to spell Missoula, Montana. A letter promises havoc at the Miss United States pageant in San Antonio, and the only available female agent that could blend in with the contestants . . . isn't Gracie, but she gets tapped for the gig anyhow.

The pageant, run by Kathy Morningside (Candice Bergen) and hosted by Stan Fields (William Shatner) isn't thrilled with the prospect of a loser rigged to hit the Top 5. So they steer the Feds to "pageant consultant" Victor Melling (Michael Caine) to teach Gracie the basics. This includes how to "glide" in high heels, a gag still funny despite endless inclusion in the teevee ads and the rest of the pageant shtick.

Deep into the world of makeup and hair and femme bonding we go. There isn't much left to the story besides the obvious romantic plot that will develop between Bullock and Bratt and an arc involving conflicts on the job (Ernie Hudson co-stars as Bullock's boss). The Bratt/Bullock pairing is the kind of relationship that comes out of being "pals" for a long time, even if the pair spends most of its time taking shots at one another. The two "B's" have good chemistry on the screen and while the potshots are a waste of time, the comedy that eventually comes from it works nicely.

Miss Congeniality is fluffy and funny and a decent alternative to the heavy duty stuff that hits every December. That's all there is to say.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Miss Congeniality, he would have paid...


dateflick for grownups. At least a dozen women, during the sneak and afterwards, were chanting "You think I'm go-or-geous. You think I'm pre-ety" as seen in the teevee ad. We double locked the door and put the chain on . . .

Click for CrankyCritic® Star Talk: Sandra Bullock     Benjamin Bratt

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.