Re-Watch: Miss Congeniality (2000)

Miss Congeniality
Director: Donald Petrie
Writer: Marc Lawrence, Katie Ford, Caryn Lucas
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Benjamin Bratt, Candice Bergen, William Shatner, Ernie Hudson, John DiResta, Steve Monroe, Heather Burns, Melissa De Sousa
Seen on: 19.1.2018

Gracie (Sandra Bullock) has always be a tomboy and feels more than comfortable in the guys’ club that is the FBI. But when there’s a threat that somebody wants to bomb the Miss USA pageant, her partner Eric (Benjamin Bratt) finds that Gracie really is the only FBI agent who could pull off going undercover as a contestant. She just needs a bit of refinement which shall be provided by old Miss USA coach Victor (Michael Caine). Gracie is not happy about it at all, but she’ll go through with it, causing a lot of confusion in the pageant with every step she takes.

When I saw the film the last time, probably around 10-15 years ago, I was still able to laugh about Miss Congeniality. But the film, unfortunately, didn’t age well.

It’s not that the entirety of Miss Congeniality should be thrown out when looked at from today’s perspective. There are charming and fun moments and Sandra Bullock is really good, as usual. But for the most part, I really cringed about many things in the film.

The film throws around homomisic jokes all the time and that gets increasingly tiring. Even 20 years ago, it should have been obvious that these jokes really shouldn’t be included in the film, but then again, there is more than enough homomisia today as well, so I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. In any case fuck that noise.

The aggravating factor of these jokes pales in comparison to the fucked up portrayal of women the film gives us, though. I mean, it starts with the fact that nobody realizes at first that Sandra Bullock is gorgeous because she snorts when she laughs and wears jeans. Yeah, right. But then the film continues to hammer home that Gracie’s disinterest in fashion or getting dolled up is a failure of her womanhood that needs to be corrected (by a man, of course) and she’s much happier in the end. Not only does she leave her fake non-womanhood behind, she is also instantly fuckable and gets to date her hot partner. That’s all every woman dreams of, right?!

That the premise isn’t without its sexism is obvious from the start, but the heteronormativity of it all weighed so heavily on me, I really couldn’t enjoy the film anymore.

Summarizing: Some things are best left in the past, this film included.

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