Gracie Hart is an FBI agent with a reputation for being aggressive and hard-nosed, who has long wanted to duplicate the career of her deceased mother, also an FBI agent, who died in the line of duty. Her cantankerous nature, though, has made her few friends, excepting her trusting, sensitive partner Eric Matthews. However, her true abilities are put to the test when she is called upon to infiltrate a Miss United States pageant after a terrorist threatens to bomb it. Gracie, who prides herself on her toughness, must now feminize her behavior to effectively participate in the pageant with the aid of Victor Melling, a pompous consultant who dreams of whisking away Gracie’s past self and creating “Gracie Lou Freebush” for an appreciative, all-American audience. After her arduous conversion, Gracie must play the role of beauty queen and FBI agent, and try not to blow her undercover outfit.
I set out to watch this movie not expecting much out of it after I had read poor reviews about it (bad writing, overacting, tired jokes and clichés), but I actually liked it and found it amusing. I think Miss Congeniality is not intended to be more than it is, that is a light comedy (successfully) providing entertainment and some good laughs.
Miss Congeniality is not about an FBI agent who goes underocover at a beauty pageant, nor about a frumpy girl who finds some self esteem. The plot is only there to create the flimsiest of excuses for some world class comic and ensemble acting and Great comedy is not about believability or plot, it is about timing and acting.
Sandra Bullock goes overboard at times making her character uncouth and uncoordinated, but her comedic timing is impeccable and she completely carries this movie with her on-screen presence. Benjamin Bratt is not believable as an FBI agent and he’s stiff as a board, but he is supposed to be. He’s a straight man, pure and simple and his performance is clever, his line readings always surprising and he comes out as convincingly clueless and charming as Sandra Bullock’s character’s friend and sudden supervisor.
Michael Caine (as the sophisticated and sarcastic pageant consultant Victor Melling, who has to making Gracie Hart over in few days), Candace Bergen (as the coolly refined yet comically sinister pageant director Kathy Morningside) and William Shatner (as the pageant co-host Stan Fields) are great casting choices, in my opinion.
So Miss Congeniality is no Oscar style movie, but it is funny and enjoyable.