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In 1994, a movie called Speed introduced the masses to a young and upcoming actress by the name of Sandra Bullock.  Before Speed, Sandra had appeared in a number of small roles both on the big and small screens. When Speed became a runaway hit it launched her it  to superstar level. 1995 saw two big hits, the romantic comedy "While You Were Sleeping" and the cyber-thriller "The Net". Sadly in 1996, the roles that Sandra picked weren't the greatest and she started a downward spiral by appearing in such movies as "Two If By Sea", "In Love" and "War, Hope Floats". This continued throughout the rest of the 90s. The new millennium gave her a minor hit when she starred as a recovering alcoholic in 28 Days. Now her second effort of the 2000, Miss Congenaility hits DVD.

Miss Congeniality
Movie
Bullock stars as Federal Agent Gracie Hart, a tough no nonsense type of agent who isn't exactly the most feminine agent on the force. After botching a sting operation and getting one of her fellow agents injured, Gracie is in trouble with the boss McDonald (Ghostbuster's Ernie Hudson). She is assigned to bury herself in a pile of paperwork. At the same time the FBI receives another letter from "The Citizen", a terrorist who they have been investigating for a long time. His next target appears to be the Miss United States pageant. The FBI decides they need an agent undercover in the pageant and suddenly Gracie is the one for the job. Enter Pageant consultant Victor Melling (Michael Caine) who is asked to transform Gracie from the ugly duckling to a princess.

From that point on, Miss Congeniality turns into the classic fish out of water story, as Gracie is put in situations where she has no idea what to do.

To me, a movie has a problem when it gets it's biggest laughs from William Shatner. That's right, the best performance in this movie comes from Captain Kirk. Shatner's Stan Fields, co-host of the pageant is about the only consistently funny person in this movie. Michael Caine turns in a fairly solid performance but seems out of place in this role after 1999's performance in the excellent Cider House Rules. Micheal may need a new agent after his role in this movie and in the recent update of his 1971 Get Carter. Candice Bergen, best known as TV's Murphy Brown, is fine, but again I'm sure she could get better roles if she tried. Benjamin Bratt also known as Mister Julia Roberts from TV's Law and Order, seems out of place in a comedic role as an a FBI agent. Sandra Bullock is playing Sandra Bullock. After a few hits it seems she settled down to where she belongs, a B-star that depending on the movie can either be a moderate box office draw or not. It's a shame that someone who showed so much promise, but hasn't been able to sustain the quality of her performances. Maybe it's not so much her but the roles she chooses - who knows.

Miss Congeniality tries to be funny and fails most of the time. When I saw it back in the theaters I remembered feeling cheated out of my time after the nearly 2 hour running time came to an end. Thinking that I was being too harsh on the movie, I decided to pick up and give it a second chance. While it was better then I remembered it's not something I can see myself watching again and again.

Miss Congeniality
Video
Miss Congeniality is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer from Warner Brothers. The image is sharp, full of rich colors, natural skin tones. Especially impressive is the sharpness and detail paid attention to the exterior scenes. Although not quite as good as the transfer for "Red Planet" it's another step in the right direction for Warner.

Audio

Miss Congeniality is another disc where the audio surprised me. Havign seen the movie in the theater, I couldn't remember there being anything special about the audio soundtrack. As far as I could remember it was just your regular run of the mill comedy mix.  However while the sound does remain in the front speakers for the most part, when it opens up to include music or surround effects the result is excellent. The film's climax sounds especially good. Dialogue is clear and mixed well. While not amazing by any means, the sound for Miss Congeniality is a cut above the rest when it comes to comedies.

Miss Congeniality is presented in both english and french DD 5.1 audio tracks.

Miss Congeniality
Extras
Miss Congeniality has been released in a 1 disc edition from Warner Brothers and is not labelled as a Special Edition.

The disc features 2 feature length audio commentaries, one with actress and star Sandra Bullock and co-screenwriter Marc Lawrence, and the other with director Don Petrie.

In addition to the commentaries, the disc features 2 short promotional documentaries. "Preparing for the Pageant" and "The Pageant". Hidden at the end of each documentary are one or two brief deleted scenes. Rounding out the disc, we have the theatrical trailer in Dolby Digital 2.0 and 1.85 widescreen.

Overall a nice offering in terms of extra features, although I'm sure alot more could have been offered.

Miss Congeniality was a movie that disappointed me a great bit. I think part of the blame goes to seeing the trailer which gives away a few too of the film's better jokes. Sandra Bullock who was on a bit of a downward spiral, regains herself a bit but only due to strong performances by her co-stars. If you like the movie, you'll like the disc -  as it earns high marks for video and audio. Otherwise I'd give Miss Congeniality a rent.


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