Warner Home Video
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Candice Bergen, William Shatner
Extras: Audio Commentaries, Documentaries, Talent Files, Theatrical Trailer
"Miss Congeniality" introduces us to FBI agent Gracie Hart. Gracie is a dedicated professional and focuses more on her job than on herself. Therefore, she dresses like most of the male agents. After an undercover operation goes awry, Gracie is reprimanded by her superior Agent McDonald (Ernie Hudson). When a terrorist named "The Citizen" threatens the Miss United States Pageant, Agent Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt) is assigned to travel to Austin, Texas to investigate. Matthews decides that Gracie should infiltrate the pageant as a contestant. Gracie protests, but it’s made clear that due to her recent mistakes, she needs to cooperate. The organizers of the pageant, Kathy Morningside (Candice Bergen) and Stan Fields (William Shatner), send Gracie to pageant consultant Victor Melling to mold Gracie into a beauty. After a great deal of work, Gracie is transformed from an ugly duckling into a swan pageant princess.
With "Miss Congeniality", Sandra Bullock has somehow managed to make yet another mediocre film. As with "Hope Floats" and "28 Days", Bullock’s latest effort neither hits nor misses, but consistently treads down the middle of the road in terms of quality. The movie definitely has quite some funny scenes, but I didn’t find myself laughing out loud that often. It is more an amusement to watch. As you can probably tell from the plot synopsis, aside from a terrorist attacking a beauty pageant, the plot of "Miss Congeniality" isn’t all that original.
Nonetheless, the film is very entertaining and never boring. This can be attributed to the characters. Keeping with the mediocrity theme, "Miss Congeniality" is full of characters who should be very annoying but aren’t. Gracie’s gruff tomboy character and Matthews arrogant playboy would be unwatchable in other films, but they didn’t rub me raw here. (The fact that Benjamin Bratt didn’t get on my nerves says boatloads about "Miss Congeniality".) The real stars of the film are Michael Caine and William Shatner. Caine wisely underplays his flamboyant character giving him a great deal of charm. Meanwhile, William Shatner appears to be in another film entirely, as he delivers some lines that don’t make much sense, but are very funny.
As "Miss Congeniality" went on to be a box-office success, Warner Home Video has given it deserving treatment on DVD. The film is presented in an <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen>, and has been <$PS,letterboxed> at 1.85:1. The image is crystal clear, showing practically zero grain and no defects from the source print. Director Donald Petrie has given the film a bright and vibrant color palette, and these hues are perfectly represented here. The framing appears to be accurate, and there are no overt problems resulting from artifacting or compression issues. The picture is always stable and there are no problems with horizontal lines.
The audio on the "Miss Congeniality" DVD isn’t as perfect, but it’s impressive nonetheless. The soundtrack on the DVD is a <$DD,Dolby Digital> <$5.1,5.1 mix>. It brings us clear and audible dialogue, which is never overrun by the music. Speaking of the music, this track brings up a nice, deep bass during the musical numbers. However, the surround sound field is quite limited, and the audio coming from the rear speakers is fairly quiet, except for a few musical cues and sound effects. But considering the crowd scenes and city-street settings, more ambient surround sound is to be expected.
The DVD also features two audio commentaries. The first contains star Sandra Bullock and writer/co-executive producer Marc Lawrence. It’s obvious that these two are close, making this commentary laid-back and fun. This pair shares many funny and insightful stories about the making of the film, and they never stop making fun of one another. The other commentary features director Donald Petrie. This commentary isn’t as fun as the first one, but Petrie does speak ceaselessly throughout the film and offers many interesting scene specific comments. The annoying thing about both commentaries is that they refer to subplots and deleted scenes, which aren’t featured elsewhere on the disc.
To round out the special features, the "Miss Congeniality" DVD offers brief cast & crew biographies and the theatrical trailer for the film, which has been <$PS,letterboxed> at 1.85:1, and doesn’t have a "green band" at the beginning.