Tuesday, April 12, 2005

[Movie review] Miss Congeniality 2 : Armed and fabulous

How often does it happen that you walk into a movie hall to watch a picture of which you do not have high expectations but come out with the feeling that you have just witnessed one of the better movies of Hollywood. Well, it does not happen to me a lot. So, I usually do not walk into the doors of the theatre thinking that this might turn out to be one. Plus, this one was touted to be a comedy and having seen quite a few Hollywood comedies, I know what to expect from such movies - two hours of silly humour.
Well, I did see Be Cool a couple of weeks ago and I mentioned that in one of my previous posts, where I also said that I will not waste my time reviewing it. And when I went to this movie, I did not think that I will be writing this review. So, I think you can guess that I am going to rave about this film. :)

Well, the gist of the story is that Sandra Bullock as Gracie Hart, a FBI agent and the winner of the Miss Congeniality title in the previous movie, has trouble continuing her undercover-agent status because of her new-found fame. So, the Bureau decides to use her to market itself. Sometime later, Ms United States, a close friend of Gracie, gets kidnapped and our star abandons her star status to go back to active detective work.
Thats it! A simple, no-frills story! Well, it was expected, wasnt it? So, what am I raving about?
Let me tell you about the characters. Let me see, there is Gracie Hart of course. And there is this black female agent who has a anger management problem and beats up men left and right with no qualms about doing that (sounds like a stereotypcial lesbian..), there is this other agent - a backstabbing, lying, conventional beauty who would use her lure to grow up in ranks, and of course, there is Ms US, a simple, sweet, dumb pin-up queen. Among the male characters, there is a cross-dressing fashion consultant who is employed to take care of Gacie Hart, a dumb male agent who is basically a pushover, an authoritarian chief of FBI of LA who dismisses Gracie's investigation (perhaps because he considers her to be dumb as she has become the "new face of the FBI"), a couple of brawny criminals who kidnap Ms. US, and a typical loan-shark. Quite a variety of characters, right? The real star of the film is Gracie Hart, who transforms into a beauty queen after being rejected by her boyfriend but finally realises that it is not important to really concern about "people who care about people who care about themselves" but to be what you truly are and not stick to any steroetype that the society expects you to adhere to for acceptance. So you see, though the diverse characters are quite stereotypical in themselves, the fact that both male and female sexes are shown to have such diversity that ranges from good to bad is what I liked about this movie. Also, the movie does not privilege the masculine or the feminine, but individualism and the uniqueness of our selves. That is how the film ends with Gracie taking back the advice she gave to young Prescilla...
At the beginning of the film, Gracie's boyfriend dumps her and she goes through a tough time getting over it as it she had taken "a chance at relationship." And there is no romantic angle in the film until the end where there is an obvious (an something I guessed a long time before the end) linking up between Ms US and the dumb male agent. But the movie really privileges friendship, a much neglected relationship in movies. This was something I liked more!
The final words of the movie is "World Peace" and it does not look cheesy at all. It is in answer to Gracie's question, "What do we all want?" and Prescilla answers with this phrase. Prescilla means this but when Gracie repeats the phrase prefixing it with "I would have said, 'sterner punishments for parole violators'", the meaning is different. Perhaps, it is an acceptance of world views differing from hers (remember she says 'World Peace' in the original only to please the crowd that does not cheer her wish to see parole violators punished sternly).
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Update - She does not say harsher punishments for parole violators but "and pride in your personal beliefs and your right to defend them."
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The movie does what its trailers promises you to do. Comedies require a couple of characters to gel well; examples are Tom & Jerry, Laurel & Hardy, The Three Stooges, etc, etc. It is an excellent comedy flick which works because of great on-screen chemistry between the actors. Sandra Bullock looks a little old for the part of a beauty queen but pulls it off convincingly. The black actress as the angry young woman is mediocre but she fits well with Sandra. Plus there are some real laugh aloud scenes which will keep your tummies tickled.

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