According to Miss Congeniality, there’s nothing quite as liberating as a beauty pageant. Skipping this dreadful Sandra Bullock vehicle, however, has got to place a close second. Donald Petrie’s makeover-by-numbers comedy follows a tomboy cop (Bullock’s Gracie Hart) as she goes undercover at the Miss United States competition to ferret out a killer. Gracie is a mannish nightmare loathe to the assignment until she’s worked over physically by Michael Caine’s Victor Melling – who gives her a haircut, a coating of makeup and a lesson or two in Femininity 101 – and romantically by her partner Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt), whose interest proves to Gracie that she might have some sex appeal. Predictably cute and idiotically misleading, the film manages to depict aspiring beauty queens as intelligent sweethearts apt to help fellow contestants prepare for the big show (instead of stabbing them in the back with a curling iron) while painting the galas themselves as venues for self-actualization. Somehow, though, I’m not sure its moronic “female empowerment” message – that women aren’t really women (and don’t get to have Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady” as their theme song) until they’ve learned to behave like brain-dead Barbie dolls – is exactly what feminists had in mind.