Film review: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005), directed by John Pasquin
In Miss Congeniality (2000), we met FBI agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock), a geek who transformed into a lady when the Miss USA pageant was under threat and she had to go undercover as one of the contestants. Roll on five years, and Gracie might dress a bit better than before, but she still snorts when she laughs and when her cover is blown during a sensitive operation, her boss (Ernie Hudson) decides that her now far-too-famous face is better put to use promoting the Bureau. Playing Miss FBI, if you like.
And so she begins touring – there are book signings and talkshow appearances and another stylist (Diedrich Bader) is brought in to make her look the part. Among her entourage is the fierce agent Sam Fuller (Regina King), whom no one wants to work with. She’s too argumentative and has a huge chip on her shoulder about other people in general. Gracie being one of them. However, they’re forced to work together, which is a bit like asking oil and water to get on.
While they’re in Las Vegas, Cheryl (Heather Burns) – winner of Miss USA in the previous film – and pageant king Stan Fields (William Shatner) are kidnapped. Instead of smiling to the cameras, Gracies FBI agent senses are tingling and she wants to help – whether the local feds will help her (Enrique Murciano) or not (Treat Williams).
Shout-outs: Eileen Brennan as Stan’s mum, with Nick Offerman and Abraham Benrubi as the kidnappers. If you don’t know who Abraham Benrubi is by name, you’ll go “oh HIM!” when you see him. He’s been in a number of things, including last year’s brilliant-but-cancelled TV series Happy Town, but the first one was early 1990s teen comedy series Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Okay, at least I like to think Happy Town was brilliant. I haven’t actually seen it, but Sam Neill’s in it and it sounds intriguing. So it ought to be.
If the sequel had been done to a similar story, I don’t think it would have worked very well. As it is now, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous isn’t quite as fabulous as the title would like us to believe, but it’s not bad, per se. It’s not as funny or as charming as the first one, and you can totally see that it’s just a Dolly Parton look-alike she’s chasing – until it’s cut to the scene with Bullock on top of her (surely, that’s got to be someone’s fantasy, somewhere!), when it obviously is the real legendary singer.
With a car full of sidekicks (the aggressive FBI lady, meek Las Vegas agent and camp stylist), Gracie has her heart in the right place, but it gets a bit silly sometimes. Like trying to get into a car with a massive plume on your head. Why not just unstrap yourself before getting in? And when your dress plumage gets caught, why not try to wiggle yourself out of the costume when the plume obviously won’t budge? Okay, fair enough, in that situation you probably won’t be thinking clearly, I’ll give you that. But still.
The saviour of the show is certainly Bullock herself. It doesn’t matter if she’s depressed because she’s just been dumped, styled to the nines in glitz and glamour or dressing up as an octogenarian – the woman is always a treat to watch, and I love her for it. I just hope they won’t make a Miss Congeniality 3, because enough is enough. As much as I enjoy her comedies, I think it would be better to see a new character. Besides, Gracie Hart feels like she’s got nothing more to proove. Not to us, not to herself. Just hope she’ll live happily ever after, bless her.
2.8 out of 5 Tina Turner look-alikes.