Tuesday, January 13, 2015

She's Miss United States

Miss Congeniality
Director: Donald Petrie
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Caine, Candice Bergen, William Shatner
Released: December 22, 2000
Viewed in theaters: December  28, 2000

Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) is an FBI agent who is a little on the crass side. She snorts when she laughs; she doesn't care how she looks as she doesn't wear make up and has unkempt hair; and she says and does whatever she wants without thinking of the consequences first. So when they find out the Miss United States pageant (I guess they didn't have the rights to use the Miss America or Miss USA pageants!) is being targeted by a madman who calls himself The Citizen, they need an agent to go undercover. The only viable person is on maternity leave so she can't do it. Even though Gracie is a woman and the right age, nobody even considers her as she is not beauty queen material at all. She has no poise or manners and her looks are all wrong. But when they discover she doesn't look half bad in an evening gown, they decide to use her as their under cover agent. She has now replaced Miss New Jersey (as she was involved in a scandal and pulled from the competition) and is using the alias Gracie Lou Freebush. Kathy Morningside (Candice Bergen) is the head of the pageant and is incredulous about the idea of Gracie being in the pageant but she enlists her pageant coach, Victor (Michael Caine), who gives Gracie a much needed make over and teaches her how to act like a lady including saying "yes" instead of "yeah" and how to glide. Rounding out the Miss United States panel is the host played by William Shatner.

Gracie's makeover includes a lot of waxing, dental care, skin care, hair styling, and make up. Of course she looks good - she's Sandra Bullock! Her partner, Eric (Benjamin Bratt) is amazed at what he sees and you know by the end of the movie they're going to become an item. I loved when Gracie taunted him with her singsongy, "You want to kiss me....you want to hug me...you want to date me." Bullock is great and hilarious with the physical comedy. Yeah, she probably falls one too many times when she's wearing high heels, but to me, it never gets old. And the scene where she's mocking the pageant winners receiving the crown is so funny. I would say the funniest scene is when she's having trouble walking so she gives Victor all these guns and holsters that are hidden under her dress and it goes on for a few minutes! Victor makes a quip about if she has an armed car under her dress as well. Although I also love the scene where they show a montage of the girls saying world peace is the one thing they want most, but when Gracie is asked the same question, she says, "Harsher punishment for parole violators" and then after a very silent pause she says, "And world peace!"

Gracie spends her time with the same women throughout the movie, the most notable one being Miss Rhode Island, a sweet and naive young girl named Cheryl (when asked what her perfect date would be, she replies with "April 25th because it's not too hot or too cold"), who Gracie encourages to be more confident. The girls representing New York, California, Hawaii, and Texas are really the only ones who have dialogue and we see throughout the movie. Not surprisingly, they all make it far into the competition along with Gracie and Cheryl. It is totally random when Miss Nebraska, of all the states, makes it into the top five and is third runner up!

There are a few things that don't make sense. Gracie has had a bad day and wants to quit but Victor and Eric encourage her not to. We learn she hasn't been on a date in many years and doesn't have many friends and she has a line where she tells Victor or Eric (I can't remember who) that they don't know why she is the way she is...but we never do learn why she is the way she is. Although at the beginning there is a scene of her as a grade schooler where she punches a boy for beating up another boy she likes, then when that boy is mad that a girl defended him, ends up punching him too. So I guess we are just suppose to figure she's always been like that, but why we don't ever find out why. There's a scene where Cheryl is suspected of being the Citizen but Gracie doesn't think such a sweet, innocent girl could ever do anything illegal so she takes her out to a club to have some "girl talk" with her and Cheryl tells her that she was "attacked" by a college professor once and while Gracie offers to teach her some self defense moves, we never hear about the incident again. Like, was she raped? It was just really random especially for not having anything to do with the movie. And Cheryl comes off as a very bubbly, friendly girl...not someone who has ever been "attacked" before. It was bizarre! And this is revealed when Gracie asks her if she's ever done anything illegal. She confesses she once shop lifted, then mentions that...which really has nothing to do with doing anything illegal, so I have no idea why they even had it in there.

The pageant takes place in San Antonio so Miss Texas has a lot of supporters in the audience. The look on her face when she learns she's second runner up is hilarious. I am about to reveal who is behind the Miss United States attack plot, so stop reading if you don't want to be spoiler (although who hasn't seen the movie yet?) It is Kathy Morningside and her son, Frank. She is being fired for fixing past competitions and she vows to give them a "show they won't forget" as she has replaced the crown with another crown that has a bomb in it (don't ask me how that's possible). Gracie realizes this right before the crown is to be placed on Cheryl, who has won the competition. It's very loud and Cheryl can't hear Gracie tell her not to take the crown so instead she has to pounce on Cheryl and claw the crown away from her. This results in a hilarious scene where Cheryl slaps her bouquet of flowers at her. Somehow Gracie punches Miss Texas in the nose (and we later see her with a nose bandage!) It's just a chaotic scene and ends with Gracie flinging the crown into the air towards the large Statue of Liberty replica as Kathy pushes the button that controls the bomb and ends up blowing up part of the statue.

The next morning Gracie is awarded Miss Congeniality by the other women in the pageant for saving their lives.

There was a sequel to this called Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. While watching the ten minute look at it on the DVD, I had no recollection of it whatsoever even though I was pretty sure I saw it since I liked the first one so much. However, when I looked at my movie journal for 2005 (this is a journal where I keep track of all the movies I've seen in the theater since 1999), it was not in there! Then I checked my online journal where I've kept track of all the DVDs I've seen since 2003 (I know, I'm a major nerd!) and discovered I saw it on DVD in June 2005. I probably don't remember anything about it because it's been nearly ten years since I saw it and it was awful as it was an unnecessary sequel. Sorry, but I won't be reviewing it!

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