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When a terrorist threat is made to the Miss United States pageant/scholarship program, the FBI must send in one of their undercover agents to find out the truth and stop disaster from occurring. But who can they send? Their list of possibilities is quickly narrowed to a single contender, Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock), who is slender, pretty and fetching in a swimsuit. Now for the snag... she's also a hard-hitting, gun-toting tomboy whose demeanor is about as feminine as Dolph Lundgren. Can they teach her how to be a girl in time for the pageant?
This 2000 movie was followed by a 2005 sequel, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous.
The first movie contains examples of:
Victor Melling: [teaching Gracie how to glide] See? Glide. It's all in the buttocks. Don't I look pretty?
Gracie Hart: It takes a very secure man to walk like that.
- And of course played with later on...
Victor Melling: He's with me.
Eric Matthews: I'm not "with him" with him, you know? It's not like...
Victor Melling: Come on, Muffin!
- Badass: Gracie
- Badass in a Nice Suit: The FBI agents.
- Baby Talk: When Eric (justifiably) balks at helping Gracie finish her self-defense demonstration, Gracie uses baby talk to gather support and encouragement from the crowd, and to shame him into helping her finish. He regrets it later (see below).
- Beautiful All Along: Gracie.
- Beauty Contest: The central premise.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Hart and Matthews, big time. The more refreshing part is that the sexual tension is clearly present before she gets the makeover, which keeps him from being a Shallow Love Interest.
- The Cast Showoff: An in-movie example. When Gracie is stuck without a talent before the show, she decides to improv and show her FBI combat training instead.
- Chekhov's Gun: Gracie's water glass trick.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Cheryl.
- Concert Climax: The end.
- Cute Clumsy Girl: Gracie, even before they put her in something other than sneakers.
- Deadpan Snarker: Gracie and Eric and Victor.
- Demoted to Extra: Understandably, most of the pageant contestants. The only ones that were actually in the movie for any decent amount of time (aside from Gracie as New Jersey) were Rhode Island, California, New York, Texas, and Hawaii.
- Dirty Harriet: Variant.
Victor Melling: "They've got their Southern Belles, their Midwestern farmer's daughters, spunky Western cowgirls, and I have... Dirty Harriet."
- Drunk on Milk
- Extended Disarming: Gracie can hide an amazing number of weapons in her pageant gown.
- And donuts.
- Fun with Acronyms: Gracie demonstrates a well-known self-defense mnemonic:
- Glad I Thought of It
- Groin Attack: The "G" in Gracie's impromptu "SING" self-defense course.
- ~Hey, It's That Guy!~: Winston Zeddemore is Gracie's boss, Detective Curtis is her partner/ love interest, Murphy Brown runs the pageant, Captain Kirk is the Emcee, and Alfred is Gracie's coach.
- Also, Shinji Ikari makes an uncredited appearance as a bar guy.
- Hidden Wire: Gracie wears one of these, unless she's just had an argument with someone at the FBI.
- Improbable Age: Miss USA contestants have to be between 18 and 27. Sandra Bullock was 35 when the first film was made (an in-movie case of Dawson Casting, since Gracie mentions in an off-hand remark that she's at least thirty, but the FBI are still trying to pass her off as being in her twenties.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Mentioned as the one time one of Victor's girls didn't win the crown during his heyday:
"The year we lost, the winner was a deaf-mute. You can't beat that."
- Ironic Echo: "It is not a beauty pageant - it is a scholarship program!"
- *rolls eyes* Yeah, yeah.
- Recitation Handclasp
- Right Behind Me: Eric's boss doesn't appreciate being Photoshopped into a bikini. Eric's boss is male.
Eric Matthews: We were just looking for someone to go undercover at the Pageant, sir.
McDonald: And I'm the best we got. That doesn't inspire much confidence.
- The Runner Up Takes It All: Gracie in the end of the film.
- Share the Male Pain: The entire audience groans and folds up a little when Eric gets hit with the G of Gracie's self-defense course.
- Gender flipped when two male agents wince sympathetically after hearing about Gracie's bikini wax.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Gracie.
- Slap Slap Kiss: Gracie and Matthews, quite literally. They engage in physical combat twice.
- Spoiler Title: Gee, I wonder who would win the Miss Congeniality special award?
- Suddenly Sexuality: When Miss New York is eliminated, she calls out to her girlfriend in the audience and tells all the lesbians watching that if she can do it, so can they. Grace claps for her, and the producers wonder if they can say "lesbian" on air.
- Paired with Lipstick Lesbian as both Miss New York and her girlfriend are gorgeous.
- Tall, Dark and Bishoujo: Gracie. Miss Hawaii may also count.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: Eric, to match with Gracie
- Tomboy: Gracie.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Gracie and every other contestant, except probably for Miss New York.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Gracie and Matthews.
- Wax On, Wax Scream: The bikini wax. Ouch.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: In the movie, Miss Rhode Island's baton twirling talent is treated this way. But during the talent scene at the Alamo, one girl's talent seemed to be making balloon animals.
- You Get Me Coffee: Mocked.
The second movie contains examples of:
- Chickification: A major plot point. A result of her Becoming the Mask after the first movie. Even after the real story comes out and Gracie becomes the face of the FBI, the girly-girl persona sticks.
- Hostage Video: The one of Cheryl and Stan began the entire plot.
- Gender Blender Name: Sam(antha) Fuller.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: Inverted:
Sam Fuller: You didn't just call me sister, because I don't recall seeing a skinny, white-ass girl growing up at the table.
Gracie Hart: Okay, first of all... thank you for calling me skinny.
- Recursive Crossdressing: Sam Fuller's head almost explodes at the prospect of going undercover as a Drag Queen:
Sam Fuller: I am not going out there as a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be Tina Turner. I can't afford therapy on my salary.
- Recycled Soundtrack: During the scene where Sam and Gracie rescue Cheryl and Stan, you can hear "Building the Crate" and "The Chickens Are Revolting" from Chicken Run in the background.
- Ruined FOREVER: Gracie's undercover career after the epic fame she earned saving the Miss United States Pageant.
- Sassy Black Woman: Sam Fuller.
- Showgirl Skirt
- Something They Would Never Say:
Gracie Hart: Cheryl would never refer to her ass as her booty! Cheryl would never refer to her ass, period! She calls it her "popo"!