Miss Congeniality 2

Since Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous is set in Las Vegas, it’s almost a safe bet to say the sequel will clean up in theaters. Like tumbling dice, the odds are against anyone hoping to repeat the success of the first roll. After all is said and done, Miss Congeniality 2 craps out.

What yanks my crank about Miss Congeniality 2 is how unnecessary it is. The original 2000 box office hit starring Sandra Bullock as an undercover FBI agent in a televised beauty pageant was self-contained. Once the cat was out of the bag, did anyone believe it would go back in? Without that darn cat, what’s left? Lots and lots of flying fur, subtle reminders that the cat has shed its original coat.

Sandra Bullock is spunky as ever, even if her character has been reduced to a shell. When we first met Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality, Bullock had fun with her rough edges, playing against type as a commando in an evening gown. Returning writer Marc Lawrence has run out of ideas, rehashing everything that worked in the first film, but with a garish amplitude. This isn= t dialogue but proclamations, shouted loud enough so even the folks in the theater down the hall get them.

Louder isn= t necessarily better, and Armed and Fabulous is neither. The sequel, like the visual and verbal jokes, has no bite. Everything is convenient set-ups and pay-offs. There= s no true suspense, and the Las Vegas backdrop provides little more than illumination.

Going in we know that Hart, having been exposed on national television, can never go undercover again. That doesn= t stop the FBI, and later down the line, Hart, from trying. When one mission goes bad, it is decided to turn Hart into the fresh new face of the FBI, a Barbie Doll poster girl who uses her new found fame to make the talk show rounds and keep reluctant new bodyguard Sam Fuller (Regina King) on her toes.

Yes, Sam is a woman, and together these two head-strong babes fight the good fight to help unravel a kidnaping plot involving pageant host Stan Fields (William Shatner) and Miss United States (Heather Burns).

What= s infuriating is the filmmakers squander opportunity after opportunity, turning what were once enjoyable characters into automatons. They only exist to advance the silly plot mechanics. They= re weak links to a mediocre chain of events.

Missing is honesty in the relationships. Even while being delivered within the context of a light hearted comedy, the connection between the various Miss Congeniality characters felt like they were part of an ensemble. Here the characters are serviceable at best. The lack of an emotional bond, either between the characters, or between the characters and the audience, makes this nothing more than a mindless romp.

If only Armed and Fabulous were madcap. It= s predictable and occasionally lame. Watching Bullock and King parade around as Las Vegas showgirls should be a hoot instead of a yawn. If you thought Bullock= s original self-protection exhibition was funny, then you= ll howl when she repeats it on Regis Philbin. Then again, probably not.

Arrested Development

Miss Congeniality 2 is Too Much


Sandra Bullock, Regina King, Enrique Murciano, William Shatner, Ernie Hudson, Heather Burns. Directed by John Pasquin. Rated PG-13. 115 Minutes.


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