My mother and I, at her estimate, have watched Miss Congeniality approximately one hundred times between the two of us. True, that estimate could also be the product of a certain level of exaggeration expected of mothers the world over, but I know what you’re thinking: "Why now? Why this early-2000s movie?"
Setting aside the 2000 film's decidedly weirder moments and less-than-perfect story arcs, I think the reason I've grown to love the film as much as I have has something to do with Sandra Bullock's whipsmart one-liners. It could also, in fairness, have to do with the fact that Miss Congeniality always seems to be on TV. But, no matter the reasoning, you can't say that the film isn't chock full of sensible life lessons, like about the power of female friendship, defending yourself from an attacker (S.I.N.G. — solar plexus, instep, nose, groin), and how the purpose of the chicken cutlets you’ve been stuffing into your evening gown might be better served with donuts. (And don’t tell me 10-year-old you didn’t have to be constantly reminded not to do that thing with the water glasses at restaurants. See? Life skills!) Here are 11 other reasons why I'm totally imaginary besties with Gracie Lou Freebush.
1. It Passes The Bechdel Test With Flying Colors
... which is more than you can say for a lot of films.
2. It Features One Of The Best Montages Of All Time
Trust me, I’m an expert in the genre.
3. Gracie's Rapport With Her Pageant Coach
They develop the sweetest father/daughter sort of relationship, even if lines like "I was distracted by the half-masticated cow rolling around in your wide-open trap," are exchanged between them.
4. ... And With Her FBI Co-Worker, Benjamin Bratt
It's a film difficult to deem a "romantic comedy," but this is pure chemistry nonetheless.
5. The "Satan's Panties" Story
Which you can rewatch above, you're welcome.
6. Gracie's Reaction Shots Are Nothing Short of Comedic Gold
Especially whilst falling.
7. Miss Rhode Island Ugly-Crying Onstage Is Perfection
See? Hilarious, even out-of-context. And if you’re wondering what’s become of Heather Burns, the actress who played her, I’ll save you the Google search: In addition to playing a larger role in the film’s sequel, she appeared again with Bullock in 2002’s Two Weeks Notice, and had supporting roles in 2011’s What's Your Number?, as well as the HBO series Bored to Death.
8. Its Underlying Feminism
Sure, it included some themes that weren't exactly the best, but there is an underlying feminism in this movie — Gracie, for instance, is an unapologetic feminist, and again, this movie passes the Bechdel Test.
9. All Of The "World Peace" Responses
Stan Fields: What is the one most important thing our society needs?
Gracie Hart: That would be harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan.
[crowd is silent]
Gracie Hart: And world peace!
10. The Falling (Though Cliche) Never Fails To Pull Through
True, Adorable Klutz is just one notch above Woman Who Works in an Art Gallery on the list of most predictable comedic tropes for women (cc: Mindy Kaling, the New Yorker ), but I laugh every time she falls. Let's just chalk it up to schadenfreude.
11. It Gave Us The "Perfect Date" Joke (Not To Mention Unofficial Miss Congeniality Day) For April 25
That's not to be confused with Unofficial Mean Girls Day on October 3.
Stan Fields: Miss Rhode Island, please describe your idea of a perfect date.
Cheryl "Rhode Island": That's a tough one. I'd have to say April 25th. Because it's not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket.
World Peace, y'all!
Images: Warner Bros. Pictures, Giphy (8)