ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  donald petrie

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  109 minutes

RELEASED  -  22 december 2000

DISTRIBUTOR  -  warner bros.

OFFICIAL SITE  -  miss congeniality

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $45,000,000
miss congeniality - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from miss congeniality at

buy the dvd from miss congeniality at

an fbi agent must go undercover in the miss united states beauty pageant to prevent a group from bombing the event.

this is the second time for sandra bullock and benjamin bratt to play law enforcement officers in the same movie. they were also in demolition man together.


picture from miss congeniality

picture from miss congeniality

picture from miss congeniality


three out of four possible stars

In a word, surprising. Sandra Bullock's got a knack for comedic timing and the cast that joins her in this film add up to a pretty funny movie. Although some of her recent film choices have made me raise an eyebrow or two (just see Forces of Nature, Practical Magic, and Hope Floats), this most recent effort is an improvement. Perhaps sandra's success is helped byd the cast that accompanies her. Michael Caine gives a hilarious performance as the gay pageant consultant "Victor Melling."

He has a line about a muffin where he's in a conversation with Benjamin Bratt . . . it's a scream. Anyway, Bratt's character turn as FBI funny man "Eric Matthews" is a good change for him. Although he's not completely comfortable in the comedic role (at least he doesn't look that comfy), he does throw a good amount of comedy across the screen. But it seems that Bullock is comfortable in the comedic area of acting. She's tried the serious skein a few times and has been moderately successful, but so far, the best of her performances have all come out of comedies.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that you've got a big cast full of people just made for comedy. Candice Bergen and William Shatner play beauty pageant gurus who make the whole pageant business (or "scholarship program," in their words) seem almost unreal. It may just be a quirk of the movie, but it's hard to figure out whether the people who wrote the movie were more interested in taking the make-up off beauty pageants and exposing them for air-head festivals, or whether they wanted to make people understand that pageants have some value. In any case, the people in the pageant, Shatner, Bergen, and a host of airhead type girls make the whole situation very droll.

Of course, this film wouldn't be considered anything more serious that mindless fluff, but the fact that it doesn't try to be anything Shakespearean, makes it a lightly enjoyable movie. Considering the heavy stuff that usually comes out with the Christmas season, it's kind of nice to see a group of filmmakers not take things too seriously. From the "behind the scenes" footage I've seen on this film, the actors and crew look like they had a pretty good time. None of the actors strike me as prima donnas and this shows in their performances. When actors get to big for their roots, it shows in their acting, and this film just had a sense of fun about it.

Of course, I could be completely wrong in this sentiment, that nobody in the picture was too much of a show off . . . but if I am, then that means those people are just better actors than I thought they were. And though the film won't win any awards for superior acting or originality, I think it should win something for being a comedy that doesn't make the viewer want to turn from the screen, like an Adam Sandler movie. It's not crass and doesn't include an inordinate amount of toilet humor. And that's something to be proud of, considering the trash that has been coming out of Hollywood lately.

This film is just a fun piece of comedy. My only severe criticism of this film would have to deal with the way the FBI was portrayed. Sure, it's fun to see law enforcement act like a bunch of nudniks, but somehow, since the film's premise was pretty out there to begin with, further unbelievable situations created by the FBI's incompetence in dealing with crime, brought the smart-factor of the film down just a bit. Just because a film is funny, doesn't mean it has to be dumb. Smart comedies often appeal to a larger audience, even though the people in marketing wouldn't have the public think so.

Miss Congeniality just hovers on the fence of being a little dumb. It doesn't wear the dunce cap, but I think the screenwriters could have paid just a little more attention to the reality of the script. It wasn't like they needed to convince the audience that there were dragons flying around. But they needed to make it a little more realistic. Of course, the whole fbi agent under cover at the beauty pageant was a stretch, but it all became sort of unreal with all the people at the FBI having IQ's of sixty.

Though how much genius can you expect from this film anyway. It's just fluff. And fun fluff at that. This film has a good sense of humor and a feel-just-great message. And the people on the screen are pretty talented. So they're able to take a so-so story and an intriguing premise and turn it into a movie worth going to when you're not in the mood for Arnold.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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