STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $24.98 RATED: PG-13
RUNNING TIME: 110 Minutes
Commentary by Sandra Bullock and co-screenwriter Marc Lawrence
Commentary by director Donald Petrie
Includes movie ticket to Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (expires 5/7/05)
Two making-of documentaries: "Preparing for the Pageant" and "The Pageant"
Three additional scenes
William Shatner hosts "Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Beauty Queen?" quiz
Theatrical trailer
Sneak peek footage of Miss Congeniality 2
CD soundtrack to Miss Congeniality 2

The concept of the double dip in DVD retail is nothing new. In fact it seems to be becoming the rule rather than the exception. I’m trying to think back to how this may have come about – whether or not this trend was ushered in by a similar practice in other media. Other than the re-releases of the original Star Wars trilogies in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, I don’t remember too many movies that came out time and again for more bank. That’s why God made sequels. And in the ‘80s, you could generally be assured – other than the Star Wars flicks – that if you bought a tape, you were pretty much good until maybe some special anniversary edition of the flick came out, or until you bought that wave of the future – the laserdisc.

After the Wonder Woman project stalled, Halle Berry snatched up Catwoman and Jennifer Garner got Elektra, the only option Bullock had left was to do a bold reimagining of the Swiss legend with Super Heidi

(As a side rant, I’ve bought my Star Wars tapes, DVDs, I’ve seen the originals, the re-releases, the special editions and the prequels. All that’s left is to finish up Clone Wars, see ROTS, get the DVD, plunge headlong into my forties and beyond and end up in a nursing home where I’ll be drooling in my Froot Loops while watching the inevitable Episodes 7-39 on Oxygen. 3-D or no, you’re not getting more than $40 of my money from here on out, Lucas, ya smarmy bastard…)

(Ahem.) TV you say? Well let’s be honest, TV is rerun city. You’re lucky to get an original episode of your favorite show. TV makes its money off of the double dip, and the triple dip, the 5,286th dip… So TV aside, where do the studios get off throwing movies out there on disc again only a few years, or even a few months after we’ve bought the first? The issue was covered in a previous review (here), where you get an inside look into how the studio bosses think. In the past there’ve been Special Editions, Limited Editions, Collectors Editions, even Extreme Editions. I’m personally waiting for the Pulp Fiction: Gimp Edition, complete with leather zip-open case, ball gag and extra footage of Ving Rhames getting ass-pirated with guest commentary by Marv Albert.

All I can say is that I had a hangover ‘THIS BIG’ when I signed on to co-star in
On Deadly Ground…"

Since the DVD double dip is pretty much a fact of life these days, I’m of the opinion that if the studios are going to do it, there better be some pretty good shit on the disc or extras to make it worth my while. Subsequently, I’ve recently had a go-round with the second coming of one of Sandra Bullock’s most successful movies of the last ten years, the presumptuously titled Miss Congeniality: Limited Deluxe Edition.

The Flick

The last time I can think of a government agent going undercover as a contestant in a beauty pageant was when Jaime Sommers did the deed in an episode of The Bionic Woman. And considering that Bullock was once a bionic woman herself, there was definitely some kind of cosmic back door thing going on here. Tomboy FBI Agent Gracie Hart (Bullock) is a klutzy, disheveled poster girl for unappreciated government employees everywhere. Having issues with punching the male species out since childhood, she ends up getting overzealous during an FBI sting operation and causes an agent to get shot. She’s then relegated to Starbucks duty while her partner, Matthews, (Benjamin Bratt) is assigned to run his first operation – to catch a serial bomber, the “Citizen,” who has recently threatened to blow up the Miss United States pageant.

In addition to information on his exploitation of mutants, Mystique found much more disturbing things on Stryker’s computer…

They decide to put in an agent undercover and although Bratt is a damn pretty man, Hart gets the call, despite being on the outs with her boss, Asst. Dir. McDonald (Ernie Hudson). What follows next is a process rivaling the NASA operation in Armageddon where Hart is starved, waxed, coiffed, manicured, pedicured, waxed again and varnished into beauty queen shape. She comes out of the whole deal looking like…Sandra Bullock. The two people running the pageant are former winner Kathy Morningside (Candice Bergin) and pageant host Stan Fields (William Shatner in his 4,234th ham/ditz/camp/letch role). And to get Hart as much coaching as possible, the FBI brings in former pageant coach supreme and super snooty fairy, Victor Melling.

A Vermont 9.0, a Montana 8.0, a Nebraska 9.5, a Kansas 8.5.
Translation: an LA 4.5, an LA 4.0, an LA 4.75, an LA 4.25…

Once amongst the other contestants, Hart has to split time between pageant preliminaries, posture and etiquette sessions with Melling, FBI meetings, being on the lookout for the Citizen and just learning how to be one of the girls. She quickly bonds with Miss Rhode Island (the wholesome girl), Texas (the overconfident hometown bitch), Hawaii (the bigger bitch), New York (the closet lesbian) and California. Almost immediately, Hart is a fish completely out of water as she has issues with her body, issues with the assignment and issues in general. Her situation isn’t helped by the fact that Morningside never wanted her there in the first place. She’s so obsessively overprotective of the pageant that she’s scary – kind of like the most diehard Jacko fans.

Caption A: Shatner discovered fans at a typical TJ Hooker con are quite a bit hotter than at a Star Trek con.
Caption B: Probability that Shatner nailed at least half the chicks on that stage: 76.4%

Anyway, Hart barely makes her way through the pageant preliminaries. She blasphemes our Lord and savior Jesus Christ during a group breakfast. She then gets a little tackle happy with a gun-carrying Texan during the talent competition. She trips and falls flat on her face on national TV and she has breast issues during the swimsuit competition. And when she runs into trouble with her televised talent competition, she throws an impromptu self defense class using Matthews as her punching bag. At various phases of the pageant, the Citizen is preparing his little surprise in the form of a tiara with a bomb in the crown. Eventually however, McDonald shuts down the operation when the Citizen is captured in another state and the FBI officially rules the threat to the pageant as being over. But Hart isn’t convinced that that’s true and decides to stay on the case alone and as a civilian. Her fears are soon realized and it’s up to her to save the day – in an evening gown and pumps.

Times got a little tough for Bratt after the Julia Roberts breakup…

Miss Congeniality is a decent enough comedy. Bullock is about as good as I’ve seen her since Speed – equally mixing the comedy and sex appeal. The supporting cast is also good, especially Caine, who is simply incapable of sucking (okay he wasn’t Olivier in On Deadly Ground, but Olivier wouldn’t have been Olivier in that movie…). Likewise, Shatner is given another ham role to play, but he isn’t given as free a rein as his fans, including me, are accustomed to seeing. Bergin is fine as the nutbag pageant host. She and Shatner have recently been reunited on Boston Legal. Unfortunately, they’re not given as much to do here as they are on the show, and their good chemistry is pretty much wasted. Then there’s Benjamin Bratt, who’s just the best looking side of beef this side of Brad Pitt…or uh, so the ladies seem to think… He and Bullock also work well together and Bratt shows that he’s more than just a pretty face, and a luscious body, and dimpled wonder…. Uh, it’s easy to see why chicks dig him…

Anyway, the choice to have Hart be a falling down klutz is an element that wasn’t really needed as Bullock did a good enough job of creating Hart as a tomboy and anything but a beauty queen. She’s also getting fairly good reviews in the upcoming sequel (which is why this Deluxe Edition came out in the first place), even if the movie generally isn’t. But here, she’s pretty good and so is the movie.

6.8 out of 10

The Look

The movie actually looks pretty good also. With dozens of chicks subbing as pageant contestants, sometimes in bathing suits, sometimes in lingerie, there’s plenty of eye candy to go around. The transfer is also good, so we can all especially admire Benjamin Bratt’s oh so pretty mug…

8.3 out of 10

Somehow I thought seeing Sandra Bullock’s cans might be a more rewarding experience…

The Noise

Not that there’s anything to really give the woofers a workout, the Dolby 5.1 Surround doesn’t disappoint nevertheless. You know, I just realized how nice Benjamin Bratt’s voice sounded… (Dear God is there something wrong with me?)

8.2 out of 10

The Goodies

Deluxe Limited Edition? As far as the disc goes, hardly. As far as the extra stuff that comes with the disc, I’d have to say yes. But admittedly there is a lot of stuff on the DVD itself:

Commentary by Sandra Bullock and co-screenwriter Marc Lawrence: It’s mostly Bullock and Lawrence vamping about the fun they had on the set, how much fun everybody was, and how much fun…aw the hell with it.

Forget it, the last caption ruined it for me.

Commentary by director Donald Petrie: Petrie has directed a few notable flicks like Mystic Pizza, Grumpy Old Men and Welcome to Mooseport. He’s capable of crafting a decent comedy, and he seems to know his stuff, which is reflected in his commentary. It’s not the most exciting two hours of voiceover, but it wasn’t bad either.

Two making-of documentaries: "Preparing for the Pageant" and "The Pageant": Boilerplate featurettes with talking heads, outtakes, etc.

Three additional scenes: They weren’t missed.

William Shatner hosts "Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Beauty Queen?" quiz: Gotta admit, I couldn’t even get through this. The questions seemed to go on and on and on. After I kept answering that I’m not only a beautiful person outside but also a beautiful person inside or guys can’t see past my good looks, I shut off the DVD player and went to go eat some cookie dough and watch Oprah.

Producers were less than dazzled by Bullock’s screen test for Man-Thing.

Sneak peek footage of Miss Congeniality 2

Theatrical trailer

Movie ticket and soundtrack CD to Miss Congeniality 2: Okay, now you’re talking deluxe (at least somewhat deluxe anyway). The DVD comes with these promotional items for the sequel…corporate synergy whoring at its best. As far as double dips go, and considering the asking price, this ain’t half bad. If you’ve got to take your girl to see the sequel, this set has half paid for itself already. As far as the CD goes, I’m not a music critic by any means, and with Yahoo! Music and music stations on digital cable, I’ve pretty much stopped buying CDs long ago. But the CD has a good mixture of old and new schools. My picks? Any CD that has The Ohio Players’ “Fire”, The Staples’ Singers’ “I’ll Take You There,” plus Pink, Patti LaBelle and Ike and Tina, not to mention Paul Anka, I’m gonna be bumpin’ it in the ’64.

9.2 out of 10

The Artwork

In a word: crap. Airbrushed crap. The original movie poster was pretty clever in mixing Gracie Hart’s FBI and beauty pageant motifs. It got the message across simply enough and Bullock was definitely easy on the eyes. This is a pale imitation and Bullock looks like she was molested by an ex-Cosmo artist.

2.3 out of 10

Overall: 7.6 out of 10