Miss Congeniality (2000) - Beauty Pageant Contestants and FBI Agents Share a Stage

Monday, January 21, 2013

In the business of Hollywood, the name that sticks out as one of the most versatile actresses – in her extensive career, is Sandra Bullock. Among my most favorite stars, she is one of them; this film being one of the big reasons why.  

Miss Congeniality

Ever since she was a freckled-faced little girl on the playground Gracie Hart has been one tough cookie. Instead of her grade school crush defending her from bullies, she stands up for him and is resented for it. Today, she is a special FBI agent who’s just “one of the guys.” Skilled at her job, it’s the following orders part that sometimes get her in trouble – and that is the situation Gracie (Bullock) finds herself in now. On a sting operation, she bungles an operation that sends a colleague to the hospital, which puts her on desk duty until further notice. The biggest case occupying the FBI’s time is one of threatening letters that speak in riddles but never leave a clue that authorities can pursue. Until Gracie works on the letters. She decodes the location, a beauty pageant. Now, all the FBI needs is to find a suitable female agent to go undercover. The database reveals only one candidate: Gracie Hart.  

Oblivious to social graces, Gracie feels she needs nothing but her wit, badge and gun, and a diet that most women wouldn’t touch. Along with her team leader, Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt), Gracie is put in touch with a pageant consultant, Victor Melling (Michael Caine) whose long history transforming contestants is well-documented but then he’s never come up against Gracie Hart.  

As is always true of anything Sandra Bullock stars in, this is a gem. True, it’s one I don’t watch often enough though it never ceases to bring a smile. Fabulous scripting leads into a great premise and the acting is, of course, brilliantly characterized. Every part of the movie is really fun.

Some of the situations writer’s place Gracie in makes it hard to take her seriously yet I sympathize with their dilemma of contrasting the transformation she undergoes – one that is obvious but doesn’t mess with the “heart” of her personality. Watching the physical makeover is amusing (in a laugh out loud kind of way) but it’s the inner workings of her character that makes us love her. Similarly, the bonding between Vic and Gracie is touching inspiring us hope his lessons will stick. Rounding out a fabulous cast is Heather Burns (in an adorable role!), William Shatner and Candice Bergen – it’s one that maintains great chemistry. 

Memorable scenes include the "fake-cry" and the talent portion of Gracie’s competition or her attempts at being a girly-girl with Cheryl. The former scenes clearly demonstrate Bullock’s great capabilities as a physical actress, and the latter are fun just because of Gracie's character being anything but feminine. Miss Congeniality has sass, humor and most of all, “hart.” It’s a piece of girl-power fluff that was as popular at its premiere as it is fondly thought of today.  

(This post does contain affiliate links, which means – at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through a link. Read the disclosure page for details.) You can purchase Miss Congeniality on Amazon Video.

CONTENT: Profanity numbers into the dozen mark, including misuse of God’s name and some crude comments about anatomy. Sexual remarks involving the pageant contestants are made, including remarks about various body parts and references to casual sex [one girl is a virgin but later non-graphically recounts being assaulted]. Two characters are homosexual; one instance is subtle [we see him ogle other men] the other announces it to a crowd. While in surveillance vans, men ogle the women they are watching. Clothing is form-fitting with plunging necklines. Out for a night on the town, several girls get drunk. Violence is limited to a few threats and an explosion meant for a person. MPAA rating is PG13.


  1. Oh I love this movie!! This is one of the movies I pop in on a rainy day just for the laughs. :-D Glad you liked it, Rissi!

    1. My thoughts on this movie are nearly the exact same, Rosie - it's the perfect movie to watch on a Saturday afternoon or rainy day. It's so cute and amusing. :)

  2. I love Sandra Bullock, as well as this movie. =) My favorite movies of her are probably The Proposal and The Blind Side. I was actually an extra in The Blind Side, so I was able to be just a few feet from her in the graduation scene, which was pretty cool. =) She did a really good job portraying Leigh Anne Tuohy's character; I loved it.


    1. You and I both, Tessa. It's just one of those cute movies that's addicting. The Proposal is probably my all-time favorite rom-com - or close to it! Love that film. Makes me laugh every time.

      Cool! That is really neat about you being an extra in The Blind Side. It was a great movie and Sandra turned in a terrific performance to be sure!

  3. Oh, this is one of my favorites too! I always get so excited when it comes on TV!

    1. I can totally understand that, Jennifer. It's one of those feel-good movies that almost "demands" you enjoy it. :)

  4. I love this movie! I would pop it in sometimes when I'm in the mood for something fun. And I agree, Sandra Bullock really is such a diverse actress, and I love that whenever she does comedies or romantic comedies her characters are really fleshed out, they're not wholly predictable and yeah, she's good at the physical comedy =)

    Hmm, I think I'm going to re-watch this movie this weekend or something...=D

    1. You and I both, Lianne! This is such a blueprint for a great comedy. If I've not seen most of Sandra's movies likely I will at some point. I've watched an older murder mystery she did not long ago as well as the dated Ben Affleck one she co-starred in. All of her characters are either really fun (she has a knack for comedy) or interesting (like The Blind Side or Premonition).

      Just re-watched this myself - it was still fantastic fun. :) Enjoy!


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