A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Miss Congeniality features lots of fun, lighthearted comedy and well-delivered punch lines, but also contains a fair share of sexual innuendo and sexist jokes. There's lots of punching, kicking, and one explosion (though injuries are few), and a reference to a sexual assault. There is some profanity ("ass," "crap," "Goddamn," and "s--t"). Drinking (cocktails, shots, wine) is occasionally visible. Logos for Starbucks, Ben & Jerry's, and Bud Light are prominently featured.
What's the story?
Sandra Bullock plays Grace, an FBI agent who lives for her job. She gets in trouble for not following orders and is considered so expendable that she is the one sent to Starbucks for coffee. She is more at home subduing a suspect than having a conversation with an attractive man, and spends more time with her gun than she does with a hairbrush or make-up mirror. When the FBI needs an agent to go undercover as a contestant in a beauty pageant, she is the only one who might be able to pass. So the Bureau hires Victor Melling (Michael Caine), a consultant, to oversee her transformation and her transition into the world of big hair and baton twirling.
Is it any good?
Bullock the producer found a pretty good vehicle for Bullock the actress in this clever variation on the classic Hollywood "makeover movie." As in predecessors from Cinderella to My Fair Lady to Pretty Woman, MISS CONGENIALITY is at its core the story of an ugly duckling who finds empowerment and a boyfriend after a few pointers on good grooming and accessorizing. But Bullock's performance and a couple of new twists on the classic formula make it a pleasant and entertaining effort.
There are few new jokes to be made about beauty pageants, but Bullock delivers the lines as though no one had ever said them before. The plot is flimsy, but Bullock plays it as though it is really happening. She gets some fine support from Caine and from Candice Bergen and William Shatner as the pageant's director and master of ceremonies, both far more three-dimensional than Benjamin Bratt as Grace's FBI colleague/Prince Charming.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about beauty pageants. What are some of the stereotypes about women and beauty pageants? What about women in law enforcement?
How do movies reinforce and/or challenge stereotypes? Is it appropriate to rely on stereotypes for humor?
How is this film a typical Hollywood "makeover" movie? How is it different?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.