“Miss Congeniality” Had an Identity Issue, Sandra Bullock Saved it From Disaster

Jack Prot

Miss Congeniality – 2 Stars (Average)

“Miss Congeniality” had a real identity problem as a movie. Unfortunately for Sandra Bullock, the star of the film as FBI agent Gracie Hart, Miss Congeniality could not take her as far as her performance merited.

She did win a second Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy; her first was the same nomination for her role as Lucy in “While You Were Sleeping”.

Released in 2000, Miss Congeniality is not a drama, an action adventure, a police flick, a comedy or a romantic comedy. It is a mismatch of all and a master of none. When you add in the corny, juvenile, inappropriate dialog, the film is lucky it had Sandra Bullock as its centerpiece because without her, it would have been beyond dismal.

In other words, the writers of Miss Congeniality-Marc Lawrence, Katie Ford and Caryn Lucas (and these may be the only ones who were willing to take credit for the script)-did not add much beyond the plot.

Gracie Hart is cast as an unattractive, disheveled, bumbling FBI agent who has no life beyond her 24/7 commitment to her job. When it is determined that a wacko, serial killer has set his sights on a Miss United States beauty pageant, Agent Hart is a reluctant last choice to go undercover.

Hart is such a poor choice that beauty consultant Victor Melling (played by veteran Michael Caine) is brought in to polish her appearance and performance as Miss New Jersey. Melling has 2 days to get the job done; this is just one example of an unbelievably bad script; even in this wannabe comedy, nothing rings true. It is like having a chair with no legs.

When the real serial killer is caught before the pageant ends, the FBI gets up and leaves. Hart realizes that something is amiss and hangs around on her own, suspecting that the most recent letter from the killer is written by a copycat killer for convenience. You will have to see the movie for the rest.

Even director Donald Petrie could not totally control the amount of glut in Miss Congeniality’s script. There were enough sidesteps, missteps and sight gags for a novelist to write a trilogy, and none of them worked all that well. Petrie cut some of the crap out, but the writers were trying to make a career out of writing one script.

Enough carping. Miss Congeniality had a few good moments, but I would not watch it a second time. One real positive was the final still picture of Sandra Bullock at the end of the film-she never looked better.

Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley

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