Only half right
By Lady Liberty
Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
* out of ****
Miss Congeniality was a pretty good movie. The previews for Miss Congeniality 2 led me to believe that the follow-up film would probably be amusing, too. It's too bad that appearances can be so deceiving.
FBI Agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) has returned to her regular duties in the New York office of the FBI since going undercover in the Miss United States pageant just a few weeks earlier. Unfortunately, her fame is making it almost impossible for her to participate in any kind of operations since members of the public keep recognizing her and asking for autographs. Gracie's supervisor Harry McDonald (Ernie Hudson) decides to make lemons out of lemonade, and he urges Gracie to become the "public face" of the FBI. Knowing she has few other options, Gracie accepts.
With the help of very enthusiastic stylist Joel Myers (Diedrich Bader), Gracie embraces her fame and perkily promotes the FBI across the country. There are only two real downsides to her new duties: First, she's still more than a little depressed that her relationship with Agent Matthews (Benjamin Bratt, who was smart enough to stay away from this second film). Her second problem is that she's forced to work with Agent Sam Fuller (Regina King). Sam is a recent transfer to the New York office, and she's got a chip on her shoulder the size of Chicago. But she, too, is forced to go along with the partership if she wants to keep her job.
Gracie's ongoing talk show appearances and speaking engagements come to an abrupt halt when Miss United States (Cheryl Frazier, played by Heather Burns) and the pageant emcee (Stan Fields, played by William Shatner) are kidnapped in Las Vegas and held for ransom. Gracie is told to go to Las Vegas and act as a public liaison for the high profile case; Sam is assigned to go along as Gracie's bodyguard. When the pair arrive, the Las Vegas office SAC Agent Walter Collins (Treat Williams) only wants to be sure the women stay out of his way as he and his agents work to solve the case. But there's more happening than meets the eye, and Gracie has never been particularly good at meekly doing what she's been told to do.
The premise of the movie is okay. Sandra Bulluck is good at what she does, and Regina King is even better. But the two are stuck with a script that's neither funny nor particularly clever (if you've seen the commercials for the movie, you've seen every even remotely funny bit in the movie). And when the story degenerates still further into slapstick, you wonder how the cast can keep forging ahead into the gaping maw of what is just plain bad theatre. Diedrich Bader, with his nine years of experience doing similar (only much funnier) work on the Drew Carey show, is the only one who manages to come off without looking embarrassed at what he's being forced to do. As the characters become more and more exaggerated, most of them just look more and more ridiculous, incluing Williams and his subordinates, and most especially William Shatner.
If you want to see a funny movie, don't bother with Miss Congeniality 2. In fact, if you want to see a movie at all, go to see something else. Fans of Sandra Bullock will probably go to see this movie anyway, but I'll bet that even her most diehard fans will end up admitting that while Bullock is good, this movie isn't. I didn't like The Pacifier at all. But at least I laughed once or twice! Sitting in the audience of Miss Congeniality 2, I never once so much as smiled.
POLITICAL NOTES: The FBI in this movie is shown to employ any number of bumblers. There are, of course, a few competent agents whose motives are as pure as the driven snow. Obviously, both of these points mean that Miss Congeniality 2 might be better billed as a fantasy than as any other kind of movie. Either that, or wishful thinking...
FAMILY SUITABILITY: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous is rated PG-13 for "brief violent images." Some parents may also find an overt homosexual presence in portions of the film to be unsuitable for their children. Frankly, I found the whole movie to be largely unsuitable for anyone of any age, at least if they were in the theatre seeking entertainment in the first place...
Lady Liberty is a graphic designer and pro-freedom activist currently residing in the Midwest. More of her writings and other political and educational information is available on her web site, Lady Liberty's Constitution Clearing House, at http://www.ladylibrty.com. E-mail Lady Liberty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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