Miss Congeniality

It's hard to imagine where Miss Congeniality came from. After the rousing success of movies like Drop Dead Gorgeous and Beautiful, people are not exactly clamoring for movies with beauty pageants in them. Star Sandra Bullock is also continuing her losing streak. She is a great actor and adorable, but just cannot pick a good script. And she has no one to blame but herself, especially since she is a producer here. Bullock (28 Days, Forces of Nature) seems content to wallow in stupid films that utilize none of her skills as an actor. Instead, she gravitates towards inane scripts and polished stories that ironically attract people not because of the story, but because of Bullock.

Miss Congeniality is yet another twist on the age-old Pygmalion story. Gracie Hart (Bullock) works for the FBI, and she is a tomboy. This is true because she wears glasses and doesn't comb her hair. She also snorts when she laughs, chews with her mouth open, and owns no dresses. Her fellow agents think of her as just another guy. When the FBI needs somebody to go undercover at the Miss United States Pageant, Gracie is the last choice. She must turn into a 'woman' in time to enter the contest. Still, with the help of Victor Melling (Michael Caine, The Cider House Rules, Quills), she turns into a babe. So much of a babe that she actually has a shot of winning the pageant and the heart of fellow agent Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt, The Next Best Thing, Red Planet). The main difference is she now loses the glasses, combs the hair, and wears tight clothes.

The reason why Gracie is undercover in the first place does not really matter in the script by Marc Lawrence (Forces of Nature), Katie Ford (Skirts), and Caryn Lucas. The main purpose is to show how funny it is for Gracie to act like a real woman. She trips when she is wearing heels and shocks her fellow pageant contestants by wanting to eat pizza and beer. Bullock can be funny, but not here. There are a few moments that generate mild amusement, everything else is merely tedious. Instead of laughs, much of what she does causes groans. When the story does finally decide to rear its head, it is all by the numbers. There is an obvious red herring thrown in, and everybody can see right through this and find the real culprit without any help.

Director Donald Petrie (Opportunity Knocks, My Favorite Martian) just seems to be biding time before the film ends. Many of the actors seem to be doing the same thing. Michael Caine's performance is a complete waste, the only reason he's here is because he has an English accent. Every other role is equally hollow, especially the pageant contestants. Petrie really does nothing to show that they are actual people who have the ability for thought, they are just the stereotypical beauty pageant bimbos. It's especially sad, considering that Bullock probably liked this film because there is a message about for little girls somewhere about self-worth, beauty, and independence, but everything in Miss Congeniality points the other way.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sexual references and a scene of violence.

Back to Movies