Film ó Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (PG-13)

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (PG-13)

By Amy Diaz

Itís five years after the first Miss Congeniality and Sandra Bullock apparently still has credit card bills to pay with whatever she makes off of the soul-crushingly bad Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous.

I mean, I know how hard it can be to get that Visa balance to zero. You figure, what the heck Iím already in debt and I do need a new pair of shoes. So, please, Sandy, honey, stop shopping. If I have to sit through Miss Congeniality 3, I may start bleeding from the eyes. And not just from the self-inflicted wounds.

FBI agent Gracie Hart (Bullock) may look five years older but in movie time it has only been a few weeks since the events of the first movie. With a few lip-glossy exceptions, sheís returned to her pre-pageant self, which may explain the off-screen dumping by and speedy departure of Eric, the Benjamin Bratt-played love interest from the first movie. Disappointed from her dumping, Gracie is also having some work-related problems due to her Miss United States-related notoriety. Instead of spending her career in desk duty drudgery, she decides to become the FBIís poster-girl and with the help of the requisite fey image consultant Joel (Dietrich Bader) begins dressing to the nines and touring the country teaching self-defense and a you-go-girl attitude.

Of course, you can take the girl out of the mustard-stained shirt but you canít take the tomboy out of a screwball comedy about dressing up. Enter Sam Fuller (Regina King), the bureauís angriest little agent. Fuller is Hartís bodyguard and, once Gracieís Miss United Stateís pals (including the always entertaining William Shatner) are kidnapped, she also becomes Gracieís reluctant partner sleuth. The kidnapping leads the girls to Las Vegas, where they must race against the stupidity of local agents and the even greater stupidity of the kidnappers.

Spoiler-ish alert: At the end of Miss Congeniality 2, Sandra Bullockís Gracie is at more or less the same place as at the beginning of the movie. You know what that means? THIS MOVIE WASNíT NECESSARY. Thatís right, all-caps, baby.

Miss Congeniality 2 is a movie that bludgeons you with its dull, drone-like stupidity. Why doesnít the mean FBI director listen to Gracieís clues on the kidnapping case? Because the movie tells him not to. Why is Gracieís FBI agent/tour guide in Las Vegas (a character whose very presence seems like a job handed out as a favor to someoneís cousin) such a weenie? Because the movie makes him into a weenie so that when he stops being a weenie it takes us by surprise. Except, you know what would have been more surprising in that scenario? Anything.

The story is simply a pared-down, paint-by-numbers unfunny outline of the first movie redone on auto-pilot with a slightly different situation and a handful of different characters and no original thought put into it.

Kingís Sam Fuller is surly and butch because the movie tells her to be until the moment when the movie needs her to be something different. Thatís not a character arc ó thatís a character straight line into a brick wall. Mean, smack, nice. No reason, no growth ó just a stop-on-a-dime change of character direction because the movie has reached its caper-ish last 30 minutes.

Caper ending, you say with mock surprise, how unexpected. Yes, every cookie crumbles in this movie exactly as you expect it to and with no deviation. And, even though the movie is only about two hours long, every predictable development in the so-called plot seems to take a geological age to unfold. Outside the theater, new species are evolving opposable thumbs and learning to walk upright while inside Sandra Bullock and Regina King are still stuck in the ďcompetitive antagonismĒ phase of their friendship. Damn, you think, I hope weíll get to the end of the film before the new thumb-having frogs reach their bronze age.

- Amy Diaz

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