In This Episode:
Ugly Ducklings, Allen and Chris, get deep into the the pageantry of the Miss Congeniality movies. Taking on the topics of tacked-on romantic subplots, gay caricatures, female led franchises, Sandra Bullock’s resume and why film makers never seem to capitalize on the heavy lifting of the first film.
Miss Congeniality (2000) is a pretty fun, though predictable, makeover comedy. Sandra Bullock plays Gracie Heart, a tomboyish but competent FBI agent currently on desk duty, due to disobeying orders during an operation.
When the Miss United States pageant looks like it could be the next target for a mad bomber the FBI steps in. The Feds, however, are woefully short on female personnel and Gracie has to go undercover as a contestant. Along the way the slobby agent is beautified and softened but discovers, shockingly, that she can still do her job and look good doing it.
The movie actually prizes unity among the pageant contestants over bitchy back stabbing and has a, very slight, hint of feminism to proceedings which is refreshing. Bullock’s performance is wonderful, filled with subtle character ticks and a nice helping of physical slapstick.
Returning to the role in 2006, for Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous, and Agent Heart’s professional, and personal, life is falling apart as she struggles to come to terms with her fame in the wake of the Miss United States case. After a botched operation Gracie is teamed up with Regina King’s antagonistic Agent, Sam Fuller, as Heart is given a new role as the face of the FBI. However the odd couple pairing clash on the PR tour for Agents Heart’s book about her pageant experiences. So when the current Miss United States, and Heart’s friend, Cheryl Burns (Heather Fraser) and pageant boss Stan Fields (William Shatner) are kidnapped the squabbling Feds have to work together in order to save them.
In the sequel all of the hard work to show that Heart can easily maintain her wardrobe, manners, career and love life, comfortably and still be the equal of the male agents in her unit has gone. Instead Gracie loses herself in the persona of success and clashes frequently with Fuller because, well the writers needed that to happen. I mean two capable women surely can’t just get along, can they.
Of all of the possible avenues that could have been explored with the beauty queen cop concept the makers just restored to hackneyed, stereotypes to raise laughs. Well they try to at least. The grotesquely over (c)amped performance of Diedrich Bader, as Heart’s stylist Joel, and the gaudy backdrop of Las Vegas are two other aspects of the film that fail to have their real strengths put to good use.
All clips in the episode are used under Fair Use for the purposes of criticism and are not intended to diminish the original works or limit the ability of the copyright owners to market or sell their product.
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