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There they all are! What beauty, what grace!
Behold the ideals of the whole human race!
They glide in their gowns and impress in each dress;
And every last round,
Swim-suited or gowned,
Is known to cause men’s hearts to beat in excess.

Some of you watching may think this all vain,
So snobbish and shallow it can’t entertain.
To all of those women so quick to complain,
You might as well tell us
You simply are jealous.
Why don’t you try wearing high heels while you reign?

MPAA rating: PG-13

I like Sandra Bullock. In fact, I have yet to find a role I haven’t liked of hers, from her Oscar-winning turn in The Blind Side to her classic action heroine in Speed. Miss Congeniality may be one of her older and more known movies, but I just now caught up with it, and yep, she’s darn likable here too, finding her humorous stride as a tomboy FBI agent pressed into the sickeningly glamorous world of beauty contests. It’s not exactly a comedy for the ages, but it’s easily enjoyed.

When tough-as-nails agent Gracie Hart is told she’s the FBI’s best option to infiltrate the terrorist-threatened Miss United States pageant (because apparently Miss America was already taken), she’s not exactly thrilled with the idea. To be quite honest, my opinion of beauty pageants has always been similar to hers, nothing but frou-frou exercises in vanity for the chronically gorgeous. Yet, in getting to know and trying to protect the other contestants, such as ditzy but earnest Miss Rhode Island (Heather Burns), she begins to recognize the more positive side of these competitions, view the other girls as people with their own hopes and dreams, and get a taste of the satisfaction that comes from advancing in such contests.

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Of course, the film also pokes fun at the shallow side of pageants, typified by Michael Caine’s gleefully haughty beauty coach who sees Gracie as a lost cause. By placing rough-and-ready Gracie into this world of glitter and swimsuits, we get plenty of fish-out-of-water moments where her less feminine behavior contrasts laughably with her surroundings. I loved her explanation for tackling an audience member during one of her performances. Miss Congeniality has a little mix of everything: absurd comedy, building romance with Gracie’s partner Eric (Benjamin Bratt); a mystery concerning who is behind the pageant threat, which plays out well even if the culprit’s motivations don’t make a lot of sense. In the end, Miss Congeniality isn’t amazing at any of these plot elements, but they mix well enough for an entertaining watch that coasts on its humor and its likable leading lady.

Best line: (Victor Melling, played by Caine, to Gracie) “If I’d ever had a daughter, I imagine she might have been something like you… which is perhaps why I’ve never reproduced.”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2017 S.G. Liput
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