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Miss Congeniality

Miss Congeniality: Deluxe Edition

Warner Bros. is the latest studio to jump on the “Deluxe Edition” bandwagon. And like most other Deluxe Editions, this one features nothing new except for a short sneak peek at Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous.

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 league jigglefest.

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 audio and video transfers of this new DVD appear to be exactly the same as the previous release, and the disc also includes the same commentaries, deleted scenes, and “documentaries.” The sneak peek at Miss Congeniality 2 runs about eight and a half minutes and does a good job. It gives you a wee bit of information about the upcoming sequel (without giving too much away), it includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew, and is almost a complete waste of time.

As an added bonus, purchasers of this Deluxe Edition will also receive a free movie pass good for $12 off admission to Miss Congeniality 2. Obviously, if you don’t already own a version of the film, this is the one to get, but it’s hardly worth a double dip.

Miss Congeniality, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
110 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Benjamin Bratt, William Shatner, Ernie Hudson and Candice Bergen
Produced by Sandra Bullock
Written by Marc Lawrence & Katie Ford & Caryn Lucas
Directed by Donald Petrie


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