from the Back Row
Miss Congeniality: Armed for Laughs
But the G-woman also knows how to screw up. When graceless Gracie misreads the situation during a Russian drug-bust, a team member gets wounded.
Possible career salvation comes from an unlikely source. A mysterious psychopath begins sending bomb threats to the Miss United States Pageant. The FBI needs an undercover contestant, and Gracie, the only female agent in the department with legs that go all the way to the floor, gets an opportunity to redeem herself. Gracie takes the assignment.
However, her partner, Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt) sees several serious problems. Gracie doesn't own high-heels; she doesn't own an evening gown; she doesn't even own a comb. Gracie lacks femininity.
Enter Victor Melling, (Michael Caine). Who better to teach a girl femininity than a man? Victor is an expert at turning pathetic pageant pulp into poised perfection. But, he finds his skills sorely tested when he attempts to transform plain-Jane Gracie from an ugly duckling FBI agent into a graceful beauty contestant. Good luck, Mr. Melling. And get your money up front.
Gracie goes to work. She learns the delicate art of beauty pageant ass kissing, she finds the three best places under a pageant gown to hide doughnuts, and she realizes a swimsuit gives you no place to conceal a 357 Magnum. She also discovers that the pain of a gunshot wound to the chest can't begin to compare to the agony of a bikini wax.
Rough, tough and gutsy, Gracie becomes Dirty Harriet with an attitude. Smart, sensitive and easy to talk to when not armed -- can Gracie convince the department that a maniac plans to blow all those beauty contestants to bloody splinters? Can she discover the connection between C-4 explosives and pageant tiaras? Can she learn to apply lip-gloss?
This movie reverberates with clever dialog, warm characters, and funny situations. Its excellent supporting cast holds the somewhat weak plot together nicely. William Shatner (the pageant announcer) and Candice Bergen (the aging pageant director) do a nice job. They even present some wonderful new uses for Preparation H(r).
If you like to laugh, go see this movie. I give it a solid "B."
Dixie says: Sandra Bullock delivers a fresh approach to fast-paced comedy. I laughed until I cried. Then I laughed until I drooled. Benjamin (I'm drooling on myself, right now) Bratt, Sandra's drop dead gorgeous straight man, made my mouth water so much I didn't need a soft drink. And Michael Caine did his usual great job. Murphy Brown and Captain Kirk -- oops, I mean, Candice Bergen and William Shatner worked well together. I loved the dialogue, the look and the feel of the whole thing. This must see movie gets my vote. As soon as I change into a dry bib, I'm giving it an "A."
Don & Dixie Mitchell
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