Miss Congeniality 2: Armed And Fabulous

2005, Movie, PG-13, 115 mins

Review

MISS CONGENIALITY 2: ARMED AND FABULOUS
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Slapdash, fluffy and instantly forgettable, this slackly paced sequel to MISS CONGENIALITY (2000) has the lazy rhythms of a none-too-ambitious sitcom well into its lengthy popular run: Trying isn't an option. Thank goodness for the coltish Sandra Bullock, a natural comedienne with mile-long legs and a nutcracker who, after years of A-list celebrity, still radiates the endearing impression that she has no idea how attractive and utterly lovable she actually is. Having thwarted a dastardly plot against the Miss United States pageant, FBI agent Gracie Hart (Bullock), an unkempt tomboy-turned-undercover beauty queen, is once again one of the guys, — snorting laugh, rat's-nest hair and all. Unfortunately, her newfound fame proves a professional liability: After a squealing fan blows her cover during a bank stakeout, it's clear that Gracie is useless as a field agent. Fortunately, her boss (Ernie Hudson) has an idea: The FBI's tarnished image needs polishing — who better to be the new public face of the Bureau than Gracie, newly minted patron saint of ugly ducklings and insecure women? Crushed by her breakup with hunky agent Eric Matthews (played by Benjamin Bratt in MISS CONGENIALITY, but merely an off-screen contrivance here) and desperate to hold onto the job she loves, Gracie reluctantly agrees to play FBI Barbie. Armed with a personal stylist, the ludicrously swishy Joel (Diedrich Bader), a killer wardrobe and a slick repertory of shtick, Gracie conquers the talk show/public appearance/press conference/all-around shameless shilling circuit, becoming a shallow, self-absorbed, limelight-hogging diva in the process. In the name of comic expediency, she's forced to work with glowering, muscular Agent Sam Fuller (Regina King), who hates Gracie so much she's perpetually on the verge of a stroke. And, in time-honored sitcom fashion, the opposites (who aren't really so opposite after all) bond while solving the kidnapping of fatuous Miss United States pageant emcee Stan Fields (William Shatner, reprising his role) and Gracie's old pal, reigning Miss United States Cheryl (Heather Burns, also returning from the first film). The case is so carelessly conceived that screenwriter Marc Lawrence seems to forget about it for long periods of time, and while there's lots going on, none of it matters except to the degree that it helps set up the climax that finds Joel and Agents Fuller and Hart undercover at a Vegas drag show. Without Bullock, the film's frantic antics would be painful to watch; with her, they're just trivial. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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