Plot: What’s it about?
We have learned to accept Sandra Bullock in a number of roles. She was perfectly suited for the naive, somewhat incompetent rookie in “Demolition Man”. Her breakthrough role was as stranded passenger Annie in “Speed” and then she did that awful sequel to it…we even accepted her as the law student who fought for the rights of an accused murderer in “A Time to Kill”. Now we see her as an FBI agent turned beauty queen in Miss Congeniality. This movie was released last Christmas season, but unlike most of the movies released back then, it didn’t really try and contend for many Academy Awards. That’s right. Miss Congeniality is a typical throwback comedy that just tries to make you laugh at how dumb it is. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much. Like “While You Were Sleeping” before it, it features Bullock as an avearage, ordinary woman who is thrown into circumstances beyond her control. In this case, the circumstance is to save all the “beautiful people” of the world…the beauty queens. Featuring a pretty darn good cast, up to and including Captain James T. Kirk himself, William Shatner as one of the organizers of the Miss United States pageant. Also included are Michael Caine, in somewhat of an offbeat role as a fashion coordinator (he turns Bullock from zero to hero), Benjamin Bratt as his usual “tough guy” self and Candice Bergen as the pageant’s coordinator.
Gracie (Sandra Bullock) has always been somewhat of a tough guy (girl). Whether it’s in second grade, beating up bullies or as a field agent wrestling it out with her boss. Gracie has a certain charm that no one really knows what to make of, but when a bomber comes calling, it’s she that deciphers the message and it’s also her that gets the job that she comes to hate. The bomber is planning to strike at the Miss United States pageant and in order to infiltrate the competition, Gracie is volunteered to go undercover and bring in the bad guy; like so many times before. There is one glaring issue, though…Gracie is more man than woman. Not physically, but she eats, acts, walks and talks like a man, even though she’s a member of the opposite sex. So how do you fit a square peg into a round hole? That’s the job of Victor Melling (Michael Caine). Victor is an outed “fixer-upper” of beauty pageant contestants, until recently where he can’t find any work. With the help of the FBI and contest coordinator, Kathy Morningside (Candice Bergen), Victor now has a chance to shine all the while making Gracie looking more Graceful.
The humor in Miss Congeniality is purely physical. It relies on the joke that you’ll buy Sandra Bullock as some “ugly” and “tomboyish” character when, in fact, we know that she is very beautiful. This gives her the chance to shine and flex some of her comic muscles. While the cast is very diverse, it does work, and though some may argue that Bullock is just “playing herself”, I think that she does a very good job. Roles like this may not be the kind to get noticed by the Academy, but they’re the kind that we like; just like “While You Were Sleeping”. While the plot is very predictable, it also works. Personally, I enjoyed Miss Congeniality, as I don’t think we make fun of beauty queens near enough (only kidding). For a few laughs, give Miss Congeniality a spin…
Video: How does it look?
The 1.85:1 image is anamorphically enhanced and it shows. Being a new movie to DVD, the image is clean and clear throughout. Warner is known for putting out some of the better transfers onto this format, as well. The image is free of any pixelation and/or artifacting errors that plague so many other titles. Black levels are right on target and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. Quite frankly, this is one perfect-looking transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
While this may not be something that compares to some of the more “audio heavy” movies out there, Miss Congeniality does have it’s share of good scenes and good sound. The opening scene features a good shootout that has some pretty good surround effects going for it, as well as some of the ending scenes. This being more of a comedic performance by Bullock and the entire crew, the movie is dialogue driven, but it’s not compromised in the least with the sound. Dialogue is clean and clear and free of any distortion as well. Overall, a good mix that surprised me with it’s use of dynamic effects.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Sporting not one, but two commentary tracks, Miss Congeniality has it’s share of extras, though the two commentary tracks are the meat of the extras package. The first track features Bullock (who also Produced the movie) and Screenwriter Marc Lawrence. The two yuck it up all along the way, but it’s clear that they had fun doing the movie, which is always nice to see–especially for a comedy. The second track features the Director, Donald Petrie. This track is a bit more technical in nature, though it would take quite a bit to top the first track. Fans of the movie will want to listen to both, but I’d recommend the first one for a better time. Also included are two featurettes (though they’re listed as “documentaries” on the box). The first is called “Preparing the Pageant” which runs about ten minutes in length. This has some behind the scenes material that is always welcome, but nothing too special. The second is “The Pageant” which runs about a minute or so longer than the first, but has essentially the same information. Some deleted scenes are found at the end of each featurette, which is another good feature (though unlisted). Some Cast and Crew Bios are also found, along with a trailer shown in anamorphic widescreen. All in all, not a bad offering from Warner.