Miss Congeniality is a comedy starring Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt, Candace Bergen, William Shatner, Michael Caine, Ernie Hudson, and Heather Burns.
Grace Hart (Bullock) is an FBI agent who's good at the intellectual aspects of her job, but fucks up on a field assignment and gets a fellow agent shot. She's also not especially femme; she states at one point that she doesn't own a dress...or a brush. When a threat from a prolific terrorist is made against the Miss USA pageant, Hart gets sent undercover as a finalist (after the Miss New Jersey contestant drops out following the revelation that she acted in a porn film, which is awfully convenient - what if it had been the contestant from Alabama or something?) and paired up with a disgraced pageant consultant (Caine) to make her ready for primetime. The middle section of the movie is mostly Gracie bumblefucking her way through becoming beautiful and glamorous, learning Important Lessons about friendship and her own femininity, and finally discovering that the pageant head, Kathy Morningside (Bergen) is the one behind the threats.
Mostly this is your standard lightweight cop movie, made a lot funnier because it's got a good cast. Like a lot of movies of the time (late 90s/early 00s), there's some problematic stuff, but it's not nearly as bad as the Jim Carrey shit we got in the earlier 90s. Sure, Grace's coworker/buddy/crush Matthews (Bratt) is a little uncomfortable when he realizes Mellings (Caine) is gay, but it's never played against Mellings and it just winds up making Matthews look like a dork. It bugs me that the Chief (Hudson) plays into the dumb boss trope (refusing to listen to Hart even when she has points worth listening to).
Actually, as I think about it, that was probably deliberate, possibly making a point about how women in the workplace don't get listened to - McDonald asks Matthews whether there's anything to what she's saying, rather than asking her to expand on her points. Earlier, Matthews blithely takes all of Hart's ideas as his own, with her in the room, and she never even mentions it. Played for laughs, or as something the women in the audience might recognize? I don't know, but two of the credited writers are women, so, take that for what it's worth.
Anyway, Bullock is funny and she and Bratt have some fun chemistry, and Caine is wonderful as always.
My Grade: B+
Rewatch value: High
Next up: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous