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So Undercover (2011)


Fluff and immaturity – not to mention a cute leading man, is something this wannabe Miss Congeniality comedy has in spades. Somehow it works.  

Raised by her widowed father – with the help of an entire police precinct, Molly (Miley Cyrus) is one tough girl. She works with her father as a private investigator after his police career is suspended and she doesn’t shy away from intimidation. Her work has caught the eye of the FBI who offers her an undercover job protecting a sorority college student whose father is testifying against a former mob boss. The FBI believes that Alex (Lauren McKnight) may have the evidence they need to make their case and with her life potentially in danger, they need someone who can blend in.  

Enter Molly – or Brook Stonebridge as she becomes, complete with a makeover and a new vocabulary arranged by her FBI contact (Jeremy Piven). At college, Molly struggles to blend in with her sorority sisters – including her no-nonsense roommate Becky (Kelly Osbourne), but her objective is to make sure Lauren remains safe, even as she tries to eliminate those she can’t trust from the list of suspects.  

Movies set among the college scene are usually painfully juvenile and this film is no more original. (Really!? The FBI is going to recruit a girl who chases cheating husbands? Yeah, not sure I buy that.) Nonetheless it is quite humorous with a leading character more mature than one might anticipate. She’s an interesting mix of awkward (while playing her college alter-ego) and savvy investigator that makes her endearing – in a contemporary Nancy Drew sort of way. She takes no flak from her FBI contact nor is she in any way intimated by her peers at school. What makes the movie so amusing is Molly’s antics and “real” humor admitting to them she is at college at the behest of the FBI or her no-nonsense amusement at using weapons, and sleeping with a gun under her pillow. The script has some good things going for it, being carried by the humor – and whether or not the audience thinks it plausible, Miley does a decent job with the character, keeping the audience interested in her methods and amusing antics. Also standing out in the cast is the cute Josh Bowman who has found fame on ABC’s soapy drama, Revenge.

Pulling from the classic Miss Congeniality, there is a certain amount of déjà vu in this concept. Much of the movie relies on the popularity of its star, and for the role as well as the film’s status, the casting of Miley does favor the script; she is, incidentally the reason it works so well. Implausible as this story is, the ending ties everything together more realistically than the viewer may suppose which does not cover for the plot threads that never fully explaining themselves. If you don’t mind some silly shenanigans, cliché characters or too many cast members barely passing for college students, then you may get a chuckle out of this movie. It’s not entertainment at its best but did take me by surprise being respectable in places most movies would jump at the chance to exploit, plus it made me laugh – and right or wrong, most of the time, that’s all I require from cinematic entertainment.  

(Parental concerns: there is a drunken college party scene with bikini clad girls and couple’s making out. One scene pans a room full of college girls in their underwear as they get ready for a traditional ritual. As a means of distraction, Molly takes a man into her bedroom under the pretense of having sex – she suggests she’s drunk, drags him into her bedroom [she is frustrated after finding out he lied] before cuffing him to a pole and stripping his jacket. Molly’s P.I. cases involve cheating spouses [she catches a robe clad senator in a hotel room with his mistress] and later she discovers a friend’s boyfriend is cheating [he is making out with someone else]. The movie rates PG13.)
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Rissi
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6 comments:

  1. If Miley was one of the reasons the movie worked, then I probably wouldn't like it. She leaves a bad taste in my mouth these days.

    As for her case... Cheating spouses?? Really? What interest does the FBI have in that? I thought that was private detectives' territory. lol

    Great review, as always! :)

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    1. Oh, me, too, Rosie! I am not a fan or hers - avid or otherwise. However, I was surprised how "fun" she was in this role. She made it... interesting.

      Yeah, that was my thought too: really!? A P.I. who chases cheating spouses is going to catch the eye of the F.B.I? That didn't seem copasetic. Fortunately, her work for the F.B.I didn't resemble her P.I. jobs so there was a pro! :)

      Delete
  2. Miley Cyrus makes a movie interesting? And I did like "Miss Congeniality". Maybe I'll give this a try. Thanks for a great review, Rissi!

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    1. In my humble opinion, yes! She gives her character personality and is a fun one. :)

      Thank you (as always!) for reading, Gwendolyn.

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  3. Shameful confession...I used to enjoy watching an occasional episode of Hannah Montana. :S Miley went in a direction in her life that I didn't so much connect with, though, and now I'm kind of turned off from her movies.

    I really enjoy watching Miss Congeniality and this one does sound kind of cute. :) I'll have to give it a try one day despite her part in it. ;)

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    1. If we are admitting confessions, bluerose...

      I quite enjoyed the Hannah Montana movie. :) It was fun and full of catchy music. Never saw the show though. Completely understand your sentiment about Miley's personal life. It does tend to a turn-off now that she's become so erratic. Sadder yet is that no one seems to care enough to scare her straight.

      Enjoy if/when you see this one; Miss Congeniality is better but this one is still cute. :)

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