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I've always found Sandra Bullock to be a real cutie, so I've always gone out of my way to check out her films, even when that little voice in my head tells me to stay miles away. Fortunately, MISS CONGENIALITY ($27) is one of Bullock's outings that didn't trip my internal alarm, and this movie actually turned out to be a genuine delight. In MISS CONGENIALITY, Bullock portrays Gracie Hart, a tomboy who grows up to be a kickass FBI agent, without a clue of how to be the slightest bit feminine. With her unkempt appearance and macho attitude, Gracie not only keeps the men at bay, just the sight of her is enough to drive them away. However, when a lone terrorist makes a threat against a national beauty pageant, the FBI determines that the best way to catch the unknown assailant is to place an undercover agent into the contest.

With no other female agents in the right age group, or possessing the proper physical requirements, the undercover assignment falls to Gracie Hart. Of course, Gracie wants nothing to do with the beauty pageant, but Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt), the agent running the operation, talks her into doing it. After getting Gracie to agree to the assignment, the next step is to turn her into a believable beauty pageant contestant. That unenviable task falls to Victor Melling (Michael Caine), an expert on the pageant, who has groomed more than his share of winners. While physically transforming Gracie into a lovely young woman goes smoothly enough (thanks to a team of highly skilled beauty experts), teaching her poise and grace proves to be the real challenge. Although much of MISS CONGENIALITY is pure sitcom caliber entertainment, I found myself laughing and loving this goofy fish out of water story. Sandra Bullock excels at this type of comedy, and as the producer of the film, she shows that she knows how to pick material that plays up her strong points. Michael Caine is an absolute delight in his role, as are William Shatner and Candice Bergen, all of whom generate laughs. The cast of MISS CONGENIALITY also includes Ernie Hudson, John DiResta, Heather Burns, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Melissa De Sousa, Steve Monroe, Deirdre Quinn and Asia De Marcos.

Warner Home Video offers MISS CONGENIALITY on DVD in a wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Framed at 1.78:1, the transfer is a genuine knockout. MISS CONGENIALITY is a glossy looking new movie that is rendered on DVD with a super sharp, finely detailed image. Colors are so wonderfully vivid that many of the hues threaten to leap off the screen. Additionally, the flesh tones appear wonderfully healthy. Chromatic distortion and bleeding are nonexistent on this fine DVD. Blacks are flawless, plus the image boasts superb shadow detail and tremendous depth. Digital compression artifacts remain completely out of sight during the entire presentation.

MISS CONGENIALITY also sports a better than average comedy mix. The Dolby Digital 5.1 channels soundtrack seems a bit more playful than one normal gets from this type of film. There is a stronger sense of directional sound effects in both the forward and rear soundstages, although the mix doesn't get carried away like an action or science fiction movie. Still, there is more activity than I anticipated in the surround channels and some of it is mildly aggressive. Dialogue reproduction is completely natural and fully intelligible. The bass channel isn't going to blow out any windows, but it is fairly solid. Popular music always seems to be a big part of comedy soundtracks, and in this mix it sounds just fine. A French 5.1 channel soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. MISS CONGENIALITY includes two running audio commentaries, the first is with Sandra Bullock and co-screenwriter Marc Lawrence and the second is with director Donald Petrie. The first track is a lot more fun to listen to, but only because the two participants spend most of the time making jokes and telling amusing stories about the making of the movie. Track two, which features the director is somewhat drier; however this talk is more technically informative for those interested in the nuts and bolts of movie making. Preparing For The Pageant and The Pageant are two behind-the-scenes featurettes that are funnier and more entertaining than the usual puff pieces that accompany film releases. Both run roughly ten minutes and include interviews, outtakes and bloopers. Look for a deleted scene at the end of each featurette; both include an introduction by the director. A theatrical trailer closes out the extras.

MISS CONGENIALITY is a very funny movie and a gorgeous looking DVD. If you are in the mood for some laughs, you canít go wrong by picking up this disc.


Miss Congeniality



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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