Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Obvious Title Would Be "Missed Congeniality:" Miss Congeniality Doesn't Hold Up.

The Good: Good supporting acting, Moments of character
The Bad: Juvenile, Not terribly funny, Plot
The Basics: A typical Hollywood Fluff-comedy lacking in significant depth, Miss Congeniality fell flat being surprisingly un-funny.

Somewhere along the line, I apparently became one of the most humorless people. Or my standards failed to fall with the masses. Or maybe I'm just immune to simple charm. Regardless of the cause, I find myself in a rather striking minority where Miss Congeniality is concerned. I was quite shocked to find so very many people liked the film.

Miss Congeniality is supposedly a comedy. It's another one I came to prepared to enjoy (I've always liked William Shatner and Candice Bergen and I was delighted by Michael Caine's role), yet found myself not laughing. I continued to root for it to be funny. It wasn't.

The plot focuses on a recently chastised F.B.I. officer who is unofficially assisting on a serial killer/bomber/etc. case until it becomes clear that his next target is a beauty pageant. So, Grace Hart is brought officially onto the case as an undercover beauty pageant contestant to attempt to figure out the crime that will be perpetrated and foil it. Her partner is a dimwit who seems entirely out of his element, the pageant is run by a fanatic, and hosted by a loon.

It seems to have the elements of being funny. Yet, it falls flat. The typical scene that is supposed to be humorous is one such as during the talent performance of the event. Grace's water glass orchestra is drunk by the other contestants, so she decides her talent is self defense and she drags Eric (her partner) onto the stage and proceeds to beat the snot out of him. They say humor, when analyzed is often not funny. In this case, it doesn't need analysis to be unfunny. As it happened, it didn't seem funny. I'm not sure I've ever mentioned this in one of my reviews yet, so here I'll pass on this anecdote. When I was quite young, my step brother went to see Ferris Bueller's Day Off with my step grandmother. They returned home and my step brother was fuming with humiliation. Apparently, at some point in the film, Grandma Dorothy said loudly, "Why is everybody laughing? This is stupid." Well, kudos to my ever-perceptive ex-step Grandma! I imagined myself in a theater seeing Miss Congeniality and when Eric keeps getting beaten up by Grace, saying "This is stupid." And it is.

The only truly redeeming things about this film is that it makes an attempt to have character. That is, enough time is spent attempting to give Grace depth and persona as to warrant acknowledgment. That and the supporting performances. Benjamin Bratt and Sandra Bullock are pretty face, who-cares? actors. Bullock remains in my book the "We couldn't afford Julia Roberts" substitute. Bratt left no real impression. Shatner was funny. This film proves what some people knew back in the 60s; he CAN act. Candice Bergen did her best with the material. The true winner (and sole reason I'd ever endure this film again) was Michael Caine. His flamboyant, eccentric beauty contestant agent role Vic is wonderful. He had fantastic mannerisms, real vivid facial expressions and delightful levels of character for a minor role.

So far, my lasting impression after 24 hours was I didn't laugh. How congenial is that?

For other films with Sandra Bullock, please check out my reviews of:
The Proposal
The Blind Side
28 Days
Forces Of Nature


For other film reviews, please visit my index page on the subject!

© 2011, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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