By Mark McKee | Published
Sandra Bullock has a career that dates back to the 1980s. The beloved actress has done everything from big-budget action movies like Speed Y Demolition Man to reward loved ones like the blind side Y Gravity. While she has a filmography that includes almost 60 movies, perhaps his best and most beloved action movie is one involving a…beauty pageant? In 2000, Sandra Bullock signed on to play a rugged FBI agent who reluctantly infiltrates the Miss America pageant to stop a terrorist in miss Sympathy. While she initially looks at the pageant and the girls with disdain or, at best, pity, she eventually discovers the depth of the contestants and that she is a beauty queen. If she’s been living under a rock for the last 22 years and she hasn’t enjoyed watching Bullock parody Dustin Hoffman’s “I’m walkin’ here,” she’s in luck. The movie is now available to stream on Netflix.
miss Sympathy is the story of FBI agent Gracie Hart, a gritty, no-nonsense agent with no sense of feminine charm. She is the type of agent who devotes all of her time, effort, and brainpower to her work, never focusing on herself. When the FBI receives a tip that America’s Miss America pageant is under threat from an attacker, Hart has to go undercover as a contestant to get close to and protect the others. Benjamin Bratt joins Sandra Bullock as her partner, who pokes fun at her difficult transition. Ernie Hudson plays the supervising agent she disapproves of but ultimately supports. William Shatner plays the charismatic and somewhat fatherly game show host. And of course, we can’t forget the inspired performance from Michael Caine, who took on the impossible task of turning FBI agent Grace Hart into the beautiful and graceful Gracie.
While the film was never a critical success, something about Sandra Bullock strikes a chord with audiences. It could be her ability to take a script that, in lesser hands, would be a misogynistic unoriginal mess and turn it into a fun, light comedy. Or it could be the talent to take a character that could easily have been absolutely amazing like an FBI agent, a beauty queen, or both, and embody them. Either way, while critics didn’t see the magic, fans loved it enough to endure decades of quotes and reruns.
Of course, Sandra Bullock wasn’t the only one to bring this film to the screen. The success of miss Sympathy it may fall predominantly on the shoulders of its lead actress, but it also depends heavily on the rest of the cast. What kind of actor would be able to land a love interest that he didn’t feel like he only became interested in once he put on all the makeup and the two piece swimsuit? Benjamin Bratt had a great performance against Bullock by being kind enough to cheer him on, but not so nice as to steal the screen from the leader of him. William Shatner is an actor known for the confident and forceful James T. Kirk, but he’s taken on a whole new role as host. His ability to appear to be in total control of a contest that literally exploded around him gave an incredible new depth to his career. The goofy and seemingly lost personality of his might have even landed him a leading role in boston legalwhere he played a similar character.
Finally, a discussion of the successful cast of miss Sympathy It wouldn’t work without the recognition of the stellar performance of the always dashing Michael Caine. This movie couldn’t happen without a great performance from the person tasked with turning a rough and messy person into someone who could make it to the finals of a beauty pageant. Caine found a way to be a tough trainer and father figure to Sandra Bullock’s Gracie Hart as he molded her into a new person. And of course we can’t help but feel that he wasn’t actually acting. We’re pretty sure that’s what Michael Caine is.
While the premise of miss Sympathy is almost as ridiculous as his other turns on action movies, he brought a charm that was impossible not to love. Could there be anything more absurd than a cop cryogenically frozen until his nemesis breaks loose on the city in demolition man? Sandra Bullock proved several times in her career that she had the charisma and range to create a movie with a jaw-dropping synopsis in the kind of movie that two decades later has fans scrambling for the remote to turn it on.