Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous

© 2005 Ray Wong

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Regina King, Enrique Murciano, William Shatner, Ernie Hudson, Heather Burns, Diedrich Bader, Treat Williams, Abraham Benrubi, Nick Offerman
Director: John Pasquin
Writers: Marc Lawrence, Katie Ford, Caryn Lucas
Distributor: Warner Bros.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual-themed humor
Running time: 115 minutes

Script – 6
Performance – 7
Direction – 7
Cinematography – 6
Music/Sound– 6
Editing – 7
Production – 7

Total Score – 6.6 out of 10

It took FBI agent/Miss Congeniality Gracie Hart a few weeks to return to the limelight. But in reality, it took five years for the filmmakers (Bullock as producer) to make the sequel. I think it’s quite a feat to make everyone look exactly the same as the original (Oh, Sandra, how do you keep your youth and figure for five years?) But what is it with Hollywood and sequels? Is March the official “sequel till you drop” month?

Fresh off her assignment and winning Miss Congeniality at the Miss United States contest, Gracie Hart (Bullock) tries to resume to duty as an FBI field agent. But her new-found fame gets in the way and jeopardizes her work and her coworkers’ safety. Not to mention it becomes too much to handle for her beau. Broken hearted and trying to become more “acceptable,” she takes her boss McDonald’s (Hudson) offer to become the “New Face of FBI” – a fluffy spokes model job. Assigned to her is bulldog of an FBI agent, Sam Fuller (King), newly transferred from Chicago because of “anger management” issues.

When Gracie’s good friends, Miss United States (Burns) and the pageant M.C. Stan Fields (Shatner) are kidnapped, Gracie is sent to Las Vegas for publicity purposes. Instead, she keeps getting herself involved in the investigation with the help of her gay stylist Joel (Bader) and a fellow FBI agent Foreman (Murciano). As Gracie and Fuller try to do what is right, they continue to butt heads with each other. Eventually, they must learn to work together in order to save the day.

Bullock (TWO WEEKS NOTICE) reprises her role as Gracie Hart as if she just played it last year. By now she has the klutzy, unassuming agent nailed. She continues to exude the self-deprecating, girl-next-door charm that defines her public persona. Gracie Hart fits Bullock like a glove. King (RAY), on the other hand, plays against type as the hard-nosed, anti-social Fuller. She is funny and a dynamite player opposite Bullock. Together they make solid female buddies this side of Thelma and Louise.

Burns (TWO WEEKS NOTICE), Shatner (DODGEBALL) and Hudson (THE WATCHER) also reprise their respective minor roles; they’re very good sports. Joining the cast are Murciano (BLACK HAWK DOWN) as the befuddled but sweet agent Foreman, and Bader (NAPOLEAN DYNAMITE) as the gay stylist (Michael Caine’s service must be too expensive to procure). Both of them pull in adequately funny, if not two-dimensional, performances. The baddies are played by Benrubi (WITHOUT A PADDLE) and Offerman (CURSED), your typical clownish villains. Added to mix is Williams (TV’s EVERWOOD) as the snake/rat-incarnate agent Collins.

Bullock hires director Pasquin (from her executive-produced GEORGE LOPEZ) for this endeavor. The result is on the par with other slapstick comedies (do we have to bring up WHITE CHICKS?) and reminiscent of his other efforts: JOE SOMEBODY or THE SANTA CLAUSE. Writers Lawrence, Ford and Lucas do keep the pace snappy and the dialogue short and sharp. The plot is relatively straightforward – except for some unnecessary clutters and diversions, it remains clear enough that even a child can understand.

I must admit, this is not the smartest and most original script ever written in Hollywood, but it makes me laugh. For a goofball comedy, I think it does the job. It has everything: buddy humor, action, slapstick, gay jokes, farce, physical comedy, and so on. I usually automatically lower my IQ when I watch a comedy like this, so the plot holes don’t bother me that much. On the other hand, it lacks certain poignancy of the original, and one must miss the brilliant presence of Caine and Candice Bergen. But Bullock continues to win our heart with her light-hearted performance, and her chemistry with King is excellent. While this film might not win the comedy crown, its ability to make me laugh out loud suits me quite congenially.

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