It's a good thing Sandra Bullock knows her strengths and weaknesses, because without Bullock as star and producer, Miss Congeniality
would be an insufferable mess as opposed to being a mildly enjoyable trifle that is custom-made for Bullock's established screen persona. Here she plays nerdy FBI agent Gracie Hart, who is given the horrific pseudonym Gracie Lou Freebush (one example of the film's juvenile tendencies) when assigned to infiltrate a beauty pageant to investigate threats of a terrorist attack. Transforming Bullock from frumpy to stunning is a piece of cake (although she gives pageant coach Michael Caine a run for his money), so the film's premise is trivial at best. More enjoyable is her character's uncouth disdain for pageant contestants and her mistaken perception that they're all a bunch of bimbos. The film nicely charts Gracie's realisation that her pageant makeover provides a much-needed ego boost. In addition to Caine's effortless scene-stealing, pageant host William Shatner and organiser Candice Bergen are smart choices for comedic support (Shatner is a perfect Bert Parks wannabe), but the film desperately needs a credible foundation for its comedy to really pay off. None of the plotting is as smart as predecessors like Beverly Hills Cop
in combining procedure with laughs. That leaves Bullock to carry the burden of a comedy that barely works in her favour. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
When a notorious criminal mastermind threatens to terrorize the Miss United States Pageant, the FBI scours their ranks to find a female agent who can win the contest and capture the killer before it's too late. Gracie Hart may be the most physically beautiful woman in the Bureau, but her lack of femininity jeopardizes the plan.