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"Miss Congeniality"

Directed by Donald Petrie.
Written by Marc Lawrence, Katie Ford and Caryn Lucas. 
Starring Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt, Candice Bergen and Michael Caine.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  12/26/00 


So, how slow is the week between Christmas and New Year's?  I got to work today at the normal time--7:30 AM--and logged onto my computer.  Now, because I get to work earlier than 99% of the people on my floor, I am used to things being a little quiet.  But, by 10 am, I turned to one of the few people that was in the office today, workmate Christine "New 'Do" Kerner, and asked her a question.

"Christine, do you hear that?"


"It's...the sound of no one being at work today!!"

And, for the first time in my life, I didn't just sense nothingness—the feeling that for just a moment, the world is at total peace--but, I *heard* nothing.  Literally as if I was in a soundproofed room.  I couldn't hear those normal office sounds:  cube slaves chatting about their weekends, workers typing away on their computers, the occasional disgruntled employee repeating, Rain Man-style, "Why am I at work today?  Why am I at work TODAY!?"  All I heard was nothing.  And, it was that feeling that drove me out of the office at 2 today with the chill of the thought that I am in fact going to work every day this week.

I mention the theme above because it relates directly to the experience that my man Terry "Riches to Rags" McDonnell and I suffered through this evening at the multiplex.  You see, "Miss Congeniality"--the new Sandra Bullock film--is about nothing.  And, by "nothing", I mean nothing at all.  In my theater, I got to hear nothing after most of the film's pointless, tired jokes and the movie's plot is so about nothing that I simply cannot relay to you what the movie is about besides the fact that there is a beauty pageant involved.  I mean, the plot is that bad!  There is a point about 3/4 of the way in where we find out that the supposed killer that Bullock--playing an FBI agent named Hart--is trailing has been, why doesn't the movie just end?  Instead, it makes up another plot line almost 90 minutes into the film to loop some more of the major characters in on the film's ridiculous ending.

Nothing!  I want to lash out with some of the signature Bellview profanity, but I can't because I didn't go as low as I could due to some of the film's performances.  Michael Caine single-handedly saves this film from being labeled outright trash, playing a personal consultant that turns Hart from rough-around-the-edges tomboy to glamour girl in a matter of 48 hours to help her go undercover to find this supposed killer.  Caine has some pretty funny lines, and his effortless portrayal of the gay consultant is perfect here...sadly, Caine is as good here as he was bad in "Get Carter", the lowlight of the year for a reigning Oscar winner.  William Shatner, as the beauty pageant's host, is not bad...but, he is underutilized and is almost a non-factor in the later stages of the film. 

Benjamin Bratt ("Law and Order") is a handsome man but I am not too convinced he can play anything besides cocky very of course, he is playing cocky here so he clicks.  But, he doesn't have much to do once Bullock's Hart goes undercover, since he is playing Hart's supervisor during the course of her mission.  So, what does that leave us with?  Central Casting, USA's ridiculously stereotypical picks for the women that compete against Hart in the Miss United States pageant.  We get the lesbian, the redneck, the stuck-up goddess, the best friend, and the nimwit and their performances reminded me of the awful acting that took place in "Armageddon", another film that took a bunch of Hollywood stereotypes and threw them into space.  And, the bottom of the barrel?  Once a superstar, now a superdud:  Candice Bergen.  Both Terry and I, about 3/4 of the way into the film and knowing that things were going to continue to head south, called Bergen a sell-out during one scene where she is talking to a surprise bad-guy.  Oh Murphy Brown, how far have we fallen?

This movie is really, really bad and I hope that you will take my advice on this and avoid it at almost any cost.  You should think to yourself, "When was the last time that Sandra Bullock was in a good movie?"  I can name both of her good movies on one hand:  "Speed", and "While You Were Sleeping."  The rest of the films, and especially steaming pieces of dung like "Speed 2: Cruise Control", "Two if by Sea", "Forces of Nature" and "Hope Floats", all ask the same general question:  how did Sandra Bullock get to be a movie star?

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09