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
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Plot:
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.

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The Women (2008)

The Women is a remake of a 1939 movie. I haven’t seen the original film, so I can’t compare the two.

The reason I wanted to watch the movie is the concept behind it – there are no men in the movie. All the actors, extras and animals are female. Plus, I like Annette Bening and Meg Ryan. But I have to admit that I was really disappointed.

First, the plot, let me tell you it.

Mary (Meg Ryan), a rich New Yorker, finds out that her husband is cheating on her with a sales woman (Eva Mendes). With the more or less help of her best friends (Annette Bening, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Debra Messing), she leaves him, struggles with her mother (Candice Bergen) and her daughter (India Ennenga) for it and finally goes her own way.

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The thing is, you need more than an interesting concept and a good cast (strengthened further by Carrie Fisher and Bette Midler) to make a movie work. And this one didn’t.

It was shallow and boring and the fact that there weren’t any men in it, seemed awfully contrived. Not because I don’t think that a movie without men wouldn’t work or that you need men in a movie to make it interesting. The thing is, the movie fails on its first premise: It’s not about women and their relationships with each other. It’s about cardboard cutouts and their relationships with men. And that’s boring.

I mean, any movie should have characters. Fleshed-out, tangible and believable characters. And this movie doesn’t. It has stereotypes. Except for Annette Benning’s Sylvie, maybe. The rest – cliché after cliché piled up on one another. [And I love Bette Midler like the next person, I really do, but can she please NOT play an ageing hippy every once in a while? Although she’s great doing it.]

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Plus – and this really surprised me – this movie almost fails the Bechdel test. Yeah, you heard me. You have got a movie full of women and most of the time they talk about men. [They are saved, but only barely.] At least, it feels like it. Which is exactly, why it didn’t work not to have men in the movie.

And apart from Annette Bening, none of them seemed to have a job and all they ever did was going shopping.

But what really, really drove me insane, was Meg Ryan. Or better, Meg Ryan’s after-surgery-face, which is not able to convey any facial expressions. Seriously. I kept staring at her, thinking, “please, wrinkle your forehead for me, only once. Or smile and let it reach your eyes. Goddammit, your eyes, woman! What happened!”

And that’s enough to ruin any movie. Even one better than The Women.