Review: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous

Squeezed April 23, 2005

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Regina King, William Shatner
Rated: PG-13 for sex related humor
Executive Summary: Doesn’t quite hold a candle to the original…if I can remember what the original was about.
Pineapples: 5 out of 10 (fair)

All I really remembered about the original Miss Congeniality was that it was about an FBI agent who goes undercover as a contestant in a beauty pageant…the classic ugly-duckling-to-swan story, except that the duckling had to be dragged kicking and screaming (and snorting).

Perhaps it was because of Sandra Bullock’s long hiatus from acting jobs that my memory doesn’t quite serve me. But I remember worse movies from further back (Wild Things, for instance). So that tells me that it was neither really good nor appallingly bad.

So, after seeing Miss Congeniality 2, I can definitely say that it’s not an exception to the “sequel syndrome”…where the executive producers (Bullock, in this case) try so hard to make the movie better than the original, but ultimately fail. It’s not appallingly bad, but it still left a funny taste in my mouth.

The story picks up where the old movie leaves off…FBI agent Gracie Hart (Bullock) tries to come back to her old undercover life, but having being seen on national TV takes its toll, and when an operation goes south as a result among other things, she accepts a reassignment, sells the book rights to her story, gets a complete makeover, and becomes the public face of the FBI.

That makeover was painful to watch. Were I of the female persuasion, I would probably not even bother with the makeup, dress just as the pre-makeover Hart did, and be just fine with it. So in this case, it’s another ugly-duckling-to-swan story, except this (1) the duckling semi-willingly asked for it, and (2) she became a plastic, phony swan. Ugh.

The story picks up ten months after the pageant, when Hart goes on a publicity tour to Las Vegas, accompanied by bodyguard Sam Fuller (King), whose character is so bitchy that she makes the original Gracie Hart look like a choirgirl by comparison. The Miss United States from the first movie (Heather Burns) and M.C. Stan Fields (Shatner) are kidnapped in Las Vegas while they are there and held for ransom. Well, you can take the agent out of undercover, but you can’t take the undercover out the agent. So Hart and Fuller, along with local agent Foreman (Enrique Murciano) find themselves working together to try to find and save Miss United States, while trying to keep glory-hungry agent-in-charge Collins (Treat Williams) from interfering.

Now, I’ll probably say that one of the redeeming factors for the movie was the setting…who can resist the eye candy of Sin City? The overhead views of the Bellagio fountains, the skyline of the Strip…the list goes on. And there are certain cameo appearances in the movie…sorry, apparently Wayne Newton wasn’t available. :)

But overall, though it was funny in certain parts…the movie really wasn’t quite as good as the original, I thought. A friend of mine saw it before I did. She liked it, and liked the original too. So I see it as a shortcoming of mine. How much for a sex-change operation?

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