Making the Grades
The FBI has finally cracked the most recent coded threat from the "Citizen", a terrorist killer they have been trying to track. Discovering the Miss United States Pageant will be the next target; the bureau must find a way to infiltrate the contest with one of their own. That won't be easy considering most of their agents are male and what few female candidates they have, aren't "pageant material."
Narrowing the search by judging who would look best in a swimsuit, their only choice is Special Agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock), who is desperate to show-off her abilities after botching up her last undercover job. Determined to turn Gracie into a princess, Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt), head of the operation, hires consultant Victor Melling (Michael Caine), a homosexual now shunned by the pageant community because of the harsh tactics he has used to make winners out of ho-hum contestants.
Calling her "Dirty Harriet," and claiming she hasn't "a detectable smidgen of estrogen," Victor attempts to turn the tomboy Gracie into the perfect contestant. This provides many opportunities for Bullock to use her physical clowning skills with some truly funny results. It also gives the movie plenty of opportunities to include sexual innuendo, shots of women dressing (no explicit nudity) or adjusting their bras, while male agents peep at them through a surveillance camera.
With the exception of Bullock and William Shatner, who plays the pageant's hip but slightly out of date Master of Ceremonies, the rest of this movie comes off tired and disorganized. And the developing romance between Eric and Gracie is never believable, perhaps due to Bratt's less than charming performance or Bullock's ability to convince us she really is one of the guys. Even Candice Bergen fails in her portrayal as the grueling pageant taskmistress, sounding more like Cruella DeVil than a believable entity in charge of a major franchise.
Full of typecast homosexuals, cops, and beauty contestants, as well as moderate profanities, terms of Deity used as expletives, and violence (including a shooting), the film may miss the congeniality family viewers are seeking.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Miss Congeniality.
What is the purpose of beauty Pageants? Are they really about intellect, talent, poise, or beauty? Why is it so important to look good in a swimsuit? What do you think motivates young women to enter this kind of contest?
Near the beginning of this movie, the head of the pageant says that the winners have already been picked, even though the event hasn’t started. Do you think this really happens?