Congeniality" on DVD
Like a Bullock in
a China Shop
Sandra Bullock produced and stars in this delightful tale of an ugly
duckling who becomes a beautiful swan while foiling an attempt on the
life of a beauty queen.
Bullock is FBI agent Gracie Hart, a competent operative who, though she
tends to go off half-cocked, is respected like "one of the boys" by her
compatriots. The film opens with her making an error in judgement in a
sticky situation, which gets her in the bad books of her boss (Ernie Hudson).
She's assigned to a desk until a hearing can be held, but just as she's
resigning herself to a time of paper pushing the Bureau gets a head's
up that there could be an attack on the Miss United States pageant being
held in a couple of days.
Gracie's the only female available and, though femininity has never been
her strong suit, she's assigned to stand in as one of the contestants
and get to the bottom of the case.
This kicks off a lively "fish out of water/cinderella" story that combines
slapstick, good writing, casting against type, and wonderful performances.
In short, this movie is everything that Sally Field's "Beautiful" could and should have been if it
could have gotten its political agenda off his shoulder.
There's feminist dogma in "Miss Congeniality," but it never takes the
place of the story and, in fact, provides for some good moments as Gracie
and others discover that there's more to these pageants than just a major
A great supporting cast is led by Michael Caine as Gracie's "Henry Higgins,"
an imagemaker assigned to turn the frumpy Gracie into the beautiful MIss
New Jersey. He's wonderful in the part! Benjamin Bratt is also good as
Gracie's FBI compatriot, though he doesn't have much opportunity to stretch
his acting powers in what's basically a pretty straightforward part.
Noteworthy is Candice Bergen as a former Miss United States who has a
lot more in her background that one might expect. She plays the part as
if it were "Murphy Brown," except that she's 180 degrees from her TV journalist
role - and though it doesn't sound like it would, it works. William Shatner
does his usual "restrained scenery chewing" as Bergen's show host sidekick.
As might be expected, this is really Sandra Bullock's movie and she rises
to the occasion beautifully - literally. She never takes herself seriously,
allowing herself to be "uglified" in the film's opening scenes, then displaying
her ultimate feminine potential when she metamorphoses into Miss New Jersey.
Even as the "beautiful swan," however, she never takes it seriously and
provides some nice pratfalls and good laughs. This movie is a far cry
from her compatively awful "Forces of Nature;" while "Forces" should be
avoided, "Miss Congeniality" should be seen.
We went into "Miss Congeniality" expecting an empty headed piece of crap
and instead were treated to a funny and intelligent comedy we enjoyed
a heck of a lot.
The DVD is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 compatible, and Dolby
Digital 5.1. Picture quality is a tad soft, but that works to the film's
advantage, giving it a kind of dreamlike quality befitting the subject
material. The audio quality is good, though the bass comes through a tad
boomy at times, and for no apparent reason. On the whole, however, it
doesn't detract from enjoying the film.
Extras include a couple of nifty documentaries and a pair of full length
audio commentaries (one with Bullock and the screenwriter, the other with
director Petrie). There are also cast/crew notes and the trailer.
Miss Congeniality, from Warner Home Video
110 min. widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 compatible, Dolby Digital
Starring Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Benjamin Bratt, Candice Bergen,
William Shatner, Ernie Hudson
Produced by Sandra Bullock
Written by Marc Lawrence & Katie Ford & Karyn Lucas, Directed
by Donald Petrie.
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