Sandra Bullock has come a long way since her portrayal of Gracie Hart in 2000. Here she played as an angry FBI agent, a nerdy girl stuck in a man’s world. She’s unrefined, unkempt, too practical for words, has no relationships, and amazing skills, which makes her a great agent. She’s nondescript, and blends in well into many situations, but when a new case comes along where she has to shine, it is going to take far more polish than anyone ever dream of to make this dark seed into a flower.
For some time, the agents in New York have been following the movements of a Unabomber-style domestic terrorist known as “The Citizen”. This time, the Citizen is going to make his/her mark on a national beauty pageant, the Miss United States pageant. The agents are under the gun to get someone in undercover, but after Gracie botched their last bust, and caused one of their teammates to get shot by a Russian mobster, she’s stuck at her desk job. The head of their division, Harry MacDonald (Ernie Hudson), feels that putting Gracie in the field is far too risky. When the case with the pageant comes up, he gives Agent Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt) the command, and now they have to find someone to enter the competition. Matthews has the ideal agent in mind, but that is blown away when he finds out that the agent is on maternity leave. So now there is a hunt to find someone in the New York office that will fit the image. After much searching for a match with imagery software, and having a little too much fun with it, they find that Gracie might be the one to do the job. They contact the pageant sponsor, Kathy Morningside (Candice Bergen), and host, Stan Fields (William Shatner) and tell them of the plan. As it turns out, Miss New Jersey has been dropped from the list since it has been found out that she was making blue movies.
This is Gracie’s chance to get on the inside, and she is given the most brutal pageant coach ever, the pompous, overly confident and arrogant Victor Melling (Micheal Caine). After a luncheon where he assesses Gracie’s abilities and charms, which there are none of, he sees his work is cut out for him. He as very limited time to make this “Dirty Harriet” into a star, and when they reach San Antonio, Gracie goes through a makeover of epic proportions to make her at least look like a beauty queen. Soon, Gracie is seeing the world through a whole new kind of POV, and she is finding that these women that she once considered to be vapid and clueless to actually be nice ladies, Cheryl Frasier, Miss Rhode Island (Heather Burns), Karen Krantz, Miss New York (Melissa De Sousa), Mary Jo Wright, Miss Texas (Deirdre Quinn), Leslie Davis, Miss California (Wendy Raquel Robinson), and Alana Krewson, Miss Hawaii (Asia De Marcos) that have plans for a future, and she finds that she can even give them some advice from the field agent side of her.
This is a fun, modern variation of Cinderella story with some crime-fighting action, a little romantic tension, and a little backstage look at what might make a reputable pageant go awry, and how this glamorous world is actually pretty cutthroat and really rather ugly. It makes for a fun chick flick, and its sequel is just as much fun to watch. Take a break from cooking that holiday bird this week, and chill with Miss Congeniality and some sangria.
I give this film a Musing review of