Miss Congeniality

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Caine, Candice Bergen, William Shatner

Sandra Bullock’s spin as an FBI agent turned beauty pageant contestant goes down fairly easily in this cutesy spoof thanks in large part to the terrific performances turned in by fellow cast members Michael Caine, Candice Bergen and William Shatner. Benjamin Bratt, as her FBI sidekick, also does an amiable job.

Bullock stars as Gracie Hart, a super competent and formidable FBI agent who can shoot and fight with the best of them. But her biggest problem is lack of social development when it comes to men; she never dates and her idea of a hot night out is spooning down pints of Ben & Jerry’s at the local bar. Her apartment’s a mess and so is she.

When it’s discovered that the next hit for a mad bomber is the Miss United States Pageant taking place in Texas, the bureau’s best choice for an undercover agent is none other than Gracie, even though it’s going to take a whole lot of people to turn her into something presentable in line with the beauties she’ll be up against. So, with the blessings (and fear) of the pageant¹s haughty director, Kathy Morningside (Bergen) and her confused emcee Stan (Shatner), the FBI hires a contingent of stylists and technicians to whip Gracie into shape. That includes the services of Victor Melling (Michael Caine), a dispirited gay pageant consultant who has more tricks up his sleeves than any of them can imagine. Caine handles his part with exceptional style and he certainly has some of the film’s funniest lines.

Then it’s up to Gracie to go the distance and make everyone believe that she’s just one of the gals while she plods ahead in the various preliminaries and still keeps an eye out for the FBI. The gags are expected but what makes the film even remotely funny is the sharp dialogue. Bullock looks very hot as the newly spit and polished Gracie and all’s well in this latest lightweight jab at beauty pageantry. Nothing too mean-spirited here.

Lotta says Miss Congeniality pokes some congenial fun while adding the FBI plot device and Bullock and pals pull it off,.

Reviewed 1/2/01.