Miss Congeniality



US 2000
dir Donald Petrie
scr Marc Lawrence (story also by Katie Ford, Caryn Lucas)
cin Laszlo Kovacs
stars Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Benjamin Bratt, Heather Burns
111 mins

Intermittently amusing but eminently forgettable vehicle for actor-producer Bullock. Here she’s a tough, uncouth, one-of-the-boys FBI agent going undercover at the Miss United States pageant to track down a Unabomber-type psycho. The latest in the current batch of beauty-contest/cheerleader-type pictures, this one opts for a Pygmalion twist, with Caine’s mincing advisor transforming Bullock from sloppy dog’s breakfast into a slinky babe who realises there’s more to beauty queens than meets the eye.

Bullock, in turn, loosens up her skinny fellow contestants by taking them out for pizzas and beer, while her new look sparks flames of romance with no-nonsense colleague Bratt. A dazed-looking William Shatner milks easy laughs as the MC and Candice Bergen apes Julia Morley as the competition’s crazed organiser, but it’s Caine who steals the show, clearly enjoying himself in a less-than-taxing role. It’s a better movie whenever he’s on screen – Caine supplies an energetic lightness of touch that’s otherwise sorely lacking.

2nd February, 2001