Ever since its notorious first director, J. Edgar Hoover, micro-managed the FBI's image in popular culture, the movie going public gotten accustomed to seeing competent, macho agents who are always able to solve the crime in question. Yesterday, this column reviewed "The Rock," which centered on a very capable, albeit not terribly macho agent played by Nicolas Cage. One of the screen's most aggressive FBI agents was played by a woman in "Miss Congeniality," which was released in 2000.
In "Miss Congeniality," Sandra Bullock plays Gracie Hart, a gung-ho agent who gets in trouble with her boss, Harry (played by Ernie Hudson), after her well-meaning insubordination results in a fellow agent getting shot. She is assigned to desk work. The bureau starts to receive threats against a beauty pageant in Texas. They decide they want an agent to go undercover as a contestant. Gracie does not want the job, but she is the only agent who could possibly pull it off. So her colleague, Eric Matthews (played by Benjamin Bratt), convinces Harry she is the right choice. Gracie and Eric meet with the pageant's head (played by Candice Bergin) and the show's emcee (played by William Shatner). The rough-around-the-edges Gracie is teamed with pageant consultant Victor Melling (played by Michael Caine). The over-the-top perfectionist soon finds he will have a difficult task in turning the gawky and indifferent tomboy into a plausible contestant.
"Miss Congeniality" is a very amusing film with a lot of great characters, such as Gracie. She is dedicated to her job as an FBI agent, but hates being in a beauty pageant as she has long eschewed all things feminine. Another good character is Victor, who is also dedicated to his job and is known for being hard to work with. This, of course, leads to much tension between him and Gracie.
Sandra Bullock is excellent in the lead role. She creates a heroine who is funny, but also smart and likeable, despite her flaws. Benjamin Bratt is equally impressive as Eric, who believes in Gracie and helps her when she needs it.
"Miss Congeniality" is a great choice for fans of Sandra Bullock.