Miss Congeniality

The tale of opposites attracting one another has long been a staple of Hollywood. One of the more famous examples was found in “Pretty Woman” when a Millionaire (Richard Gere) fell in love with a prostitute, (Julia Roberts) and despite all odds, ending up happily ever after. Over the years there have been several films that paired a seemingly mismatched couple, only to find them madly in love with one another by the films end.
The current Sandra Bullock film “Miss Congeniality” takes this formula and gives it a unique twist. Bullock plays Gracie Hart, a tough, yet fragile FBI agent who is so eager to do her job well that she at times, veers from the handbook, much to the dismay of her boss (Ernie Hudson) Following a botched raid at a nightclub, Gracie is assigned to a desk pending a review board. Gracie is seething as not only is she frustrated to be off a case of a serial bomber, but the case was given to the man she has admired from afar for long. Eric Matthews (played by rising star Benjamin Bratt)
Gracie is given a reprieve when it is learned that a terrorist plans to blow up the Miss Unites States pageant in San Antonio. Gracie is the only agent available that can go under cover in this pageant, but matters are further complicated by Gracie’s tomboy mannerisms and a complete lack of grace and femininity.
Gracie is horrified at the thought of becoming a girly type, and the pageant lead, Candice Bergen is horrified at the idea of someone like Gracie being put in the event, let aside being granted to become one of the five finalists so she can provide protection on stage at all times.
The task of turning the ugly duckling into a swam falls to Victor Melling (Michale Caine) a pompous and obsessive pageant trainer, who has fallen into disfavor in the pageant community despite having 11 of his last 12 ladies win the event. He explains to an amused Gracie that #12 only lost as she was up against a deaf mute, and you can’t win against those odds.
Before you know it, Victor has turned Gracie into a stunning, lady and in between keeping her away from donuts and junk food becomes a mixture of Pygmalion and Yoda to her, as he instructs her in more than just the ways of a pageant, he instructs her on how to reach her potential and have poise.
The film has some great laughs in it, and Bullock and Bratt have a genuine chemistry. Michael Caine is in top form and Bergen and William Shatner give great supporting performances.
The film does not dwell to deeply into the politics of pageant life, but it does show that the ladies are often much more than the bubbleheads that they are so often made out to be. A fun film that is a great way to pass an hour and a half.
3.5 Stars out of 5