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Click above to purchase "Miss Congeniality" at amazon.com

 

Miss Congeniality

review by Zach B.

Rated PG-13

Studio: Warner

Running Time: 110 minutes

Starring Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Benjamin Bratt, Candice Bergen, Ernie Hudson, William Shatner

Written by Marc Lawrence and Katie Ford and Caryn Lucas

Directed by Donald Petrie

Retail Price: $24.98

Features: Audio Commentary with Sandra Bullock and Co-Writer/Executive Producer Marc Lawrence, Audio Commentary with Director Donald Petrie, Cast and Crew, Documentaries, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Chapter Search (33 Chapters)

Let me put it this way: the last time Sandra Bullock produced a movie it made her a new punchline in Hollywood. That movie was last Winter's critically bashed and bomb "Gun Shy" (it only lasted about three weeks in theaters... Disney didn't even give it that much of a wide release). So when Bullock's next producing project has Julia Robert's boyfriend, Murphy Brown, Michael Caine and Captain Kirk what do you get? A surprisingly good comedy.

"Miss Congeniality" finds Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock), an F.B.I. agent who can't seem to get anything right. She's the biggest tomboy you'll ever see chowing down on greasy foods, wearing clothes that are meant for men and enjoying fighting as well as exercising. After blowing a mission, Hart takes the blow from her boss (Ernie Hudson). The F.B.I. is hot on the trail of a mysterious person named "The Citizen" commiting horrible acts. Yet after a strange letter is discovered from "The Citizen", the clues lead to that the next crime will occur "Miss United States Pageant", a "scholarship" pageant which is like all the others - young beauties vying for the crown while bsing that they can make a difference. While it seems no body at the F.B.I. branch is suited for the job, there is Gracie, where she reluctantly accepts to go undercover. While the pageant director (Candice Bergan) and the co-host (Shatner) aren't too thrilled, they agree. Hart gets a last name change and she goes undercover, meeting some strange contestants with a lot of hilarious comedy along the way. While Gracie may seem to be an ugly duckling, an exiled associate of the pageant named Victor Melling (Michael Caine) comes to the rescue to change Gracie to a beautiful swan - complete with manners. All of this happens while trying to capture and stop the mysterious stranger from ruining the pageant.

When I saw the trailer for "Miss Congeniality", I thought it'd be one of those stupid two star comedies. When I read some reviews, they ranged from lukewarm to raving. I have to say this film was a really nice surprise, it was one of the best comedies I saw in the year 2000. The film is well written, well directed and has some great performances - not to mention the film in general is really well made. This movie is sweet and funny, all while making fun of most of the bs of being in a pageant (covered better here than the horrendous "Drop Dead Gorgeous").

The performances here are superb. Bullock as Gracie is excellent and brings everything that is needed for the role. She is this woman who seems like a man, but within her there really is a lovely lady. Her New Jersey accent is perfect and her acting range is shown here. She is the "Hart" (haha, stupid pun now shut up) of the film. All in all, her performance is impressive and believible. She takes the role and runs with it, so a very nice job on her part. Benjamin Bratt from "Law and Order" is Bullock's love interest and partner Eric Matthews, and he does a great job. He impressed me the most in the film as Bratt shows he does have what it takes to be a true leading man. The chemistry between him and Bullock is there and he does bring a lot to this role. Michael Caine, who I am surprised took this role (I wasn't sure if this was his type of thing), is the most enjoyable as Gracie's pageant consultant Vic. His performance is elegant and fits him quite well, so this was a very nice surprise as I believe Michael Caine is truly one of the greatest actors of our time. He really brings a lot to the movie and it is just fun to watch him. Rounding out the rest of the cast is Candice Bergen and William Shatner. Bergen is marvelous as the cold and annoying pageant director and William Shatner as the pageant's co-host, Stan is funny. Though his role is pretty small, it isn't incredibly stupid. Even John DiResta from the crappy and failed UPN sitcom "DiResta" is in this movie. Heh, it even seems he is building a career from the credentials I checked.

This movie is really funny. It's not a stupid comedy but it's not an intelligent one either. Most of the jokes are drawn from slapstick and commentary on beauty pageants. Some of the contestant members we meet are funny, because they are used as jokes for the film, showing how stupid some of these pageants get with crap on "world peace" and "making a difference" as well as looking thin with a good image. I did enjoy the commentary on the pageants, because I think it does point out some key points that so many pageants are known for. I do admit though that some jokes are pointless and fall flat, but most of them are actually funny and will make you laugh pretty hard. Basically, this movie is entertaining the whole way through with a script that is nicely developed complete with some solid direction.

"Miss Congeniality" will bring a grin to your face. It is a very entertaining movie and is a very good crowd pleasing film audiences are sure to love. It isn't a "chick flick" because I think the jokes will appeal to everyone (but the women are sure to strongly appeal to the men). As long as you don't go in taking the movie seriously, you'll probably enjoy it and laugh out loud.

 

Once again Warner delivers a really spiffy transfer. Their transfers are always top-notch and still continue to impress me; I don't know what more I can say than whats already been said about their transfers. Still, the film is in 1.85:1 anamorphic widesceen and is simply near-reference quality except for a little piece of dirt here and there that I doubt anyone will notice. Colors are bold and saturated to perfection, I didn't notice any grains, scratches or dirt and there was no shimmering or noise to speak of. The image has great detail and an excellent sense of clarity. No complaints here, you'll probably be impressed to death.

"Miss Congeniality" has a fantastic 5.1 English Dolby Digital track and a 5.1 French Dolby Digital track. The film features a bevy of great surrounds, especially in the second chapter and toward the fun climax. A lot of the stuff here will light up your speakers. Whether its gunshots or well mixed music, the 5.1 really packs an impressive punch. People don't think that comedies don't go well with 5.1 due to their nature, but there are some great exceptions that show what some comedies can do, and "Miss Congeniality" is one of them. Also included are French and English subtitles.

I was quite glad to see a good deal of supplements with the movie, and everything here is excellent. You don't get one, but two audio commentaries. One Audio Commentary is with Donald Petrie, the film's director. There are some pauses now and then but in the end this is a very informative track. He's pretty articulate and gives some good insight onto his choices, though some of his comments are pretty obvious. He also praises his cast and crew. Petrie's voice is a little uptight (it got a little annoying to listen to after awhile), but again, it's worth it. Despite the pauses, there's a good deal information to absorb about the film's production.

The second Audio Commentary features Sandra Bullock and Marc Lawrence, who served as an executive producer and co-writer. The track's audio sounds a little weird, there's some hollow and echo effect when listening to it, but it's not that bad. As far as the actual track goes, it's exactly what I like in a track. As some of you know, I like my commentaries fun but also filled with information, and this track does that and does it perfectly. Bullock and Lawrence make some jokes and have a good deal of fun with the track, as well as offering interesting comments about the movie's production and their thoughts. It seems they had a great time making the film and doing this commentary, so be sure to listen to this track. They're relaxed and have good input, and definently one of the better tracks I've heard in quite awhile.

Warner has included two Documentaries, though they are more like featurettes. Preparing For The Pageant is in full frame and two channel sound, and while that's the name of "documentary" on the disc, the featurette calls it "Miss Congeniality: Behind The Beauty" There are interviews with the cast and crew and it features some behind the scenes footage as well as clips from the film. Basically, the cast and crew give insight about the story and characters. There are interviews with Petrie, Bullock, Caine, Bratt, the costume designer and others. Within this featurette you'll find a deleted scene and outtakes. It lasts nine minutes.

The Pageant is the other "documentary" that lasts a good eleven minutes. The title for the featurette on the actual featurette is "Miss Congeniality: Behind The Crown" It also features behind the scenes clips and interviews with the cast and crew such as Petrie, Bergen, Shatner and stunt coordinator Jack Gill. A lot of this featurette focuses on the beauty pageant scenes. It also has outtakes and two deleted scenes. It's in two channel sound and full frame. On a side note, I would have prefered the outtakes and deleted scenes in a seperate section, but it's still quite nice to have them on the disc.

Rounding the disc out is the Theatrical Trailer in anamorphic widescreen and two channel sound, and a listing of the Cast and Crew.

Warner delivers an amazing package for a great price. It's a solid film with a solid transfer, an excellent mix and a perfect amount of supplements. Comedy fans, look no further and pick up "Miss Congeniality"

(4/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4.5/5)

(4/5)

(3/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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