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Overall Rating
2.07

Awesome: 4.88%
Worth A Look: 9.76%
Average: 9.76%
Pretty Bad39.02%
Total Crap: 36.59%

3 reviews, 23 user ratings


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Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Please, Sandy, no 'Ya-Ya Sisterhood 2'"
2 stars

After the disastrous release of “Speed 2: Cruise Control” in 1997, Sandra Bullock publicly apologized for having appeared in such a worthless piece of junk–a bit of self-effacing nonsense that meant absolutely nothing (as I presume she didn’t return the hefty paycheck she received) but allowed fawning fans (and equally fawning members of the press) to comment about how down to earth she was for admitting that a film almost universally reviled (except by Roger Ebert) as one of the worst ever made was, perhaps, not up to snuff. Apparently having learned nothing from that experience, she has decided to grace us with “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous,” a desperate exercise in naked greed that is as unfunny as it is unnecessary. The only difference is that “Speed 2" at least had the stones to trash the memory of a good movie; this, by comparison, somehow manages to fail to live up to the memory of a film that wasn’t much to begin with.

Since the original film, which was a hit in 2000, did not exactly leave many unanswered questions that would lend themselves to a continuation, “Miss Congeniality 2" is one of those sequels where it was decided early on that if a joke made an impression the first time around, it would be repeated here almost verbatim. If you liked Bullock’s snorting laugh in the original, you will find it repeated here early and often. If you enjoyed the sight of tough male FBI agents being wiped out in hand-to-hand combat training by (Gasp!)girls, you will be treated to several instances of that as well. And if you found the presence of William Shatner as a pompous pageant host hilarious five years ago, the filmmakers have even shoehorned him back into the plot even though the beauty pageant angle has been dropped. Other jokes, on the other hand, have been necessarily tweaked a bit. You will recall that the first film featured Michael Caine as a makeover wizard who fixed Bullock up on the inside as well as the outside. While Caine is absent from the proceedings, the filmmakers do bring in a similar character, this time played by Diedrich Bader. Picture in your mind the gulf between Michael Caine and Diedrich Bader and you can begin to imagine the similar gulf between “Miss Congeniality” and “Miss Congeniality 2.”

This film picks up a couple of weeks after the events of the previous installment, which ended, you will recall, with FBI agent Gracie Hart (Bullock) becoming famous after making a high-profile bust at a beauty pageant not a million miles removed from the Miss America festivities. In what may be the one realistic element in the film, no one at the bureau is smart enough to realize that Gracie’s celebrity status might be a liability when sending her out on undercover missions. When one such bust goes south after being interrupted by an autograph seeker, Gracie’s boss’s decide to make her the public face of the FBI in order to win over the masses. (“The bureau has had some bad publicity lately.”) This effort apparently requires tax dollars to be spent on a ghost-written biography, 24-hour hair-and-makeup people and appearances on “Live With Regis & Kelly.” In one of the smarter decisions of her career, Kelly Ripa decided this would be the one show-business endeavor that she wouldn’t appear in. In one of the dumber decisions of his, Regis decided that he would and the result is an appearance that barely outclasses his work in such less-than-stellar films as “Sexette” and “The Bad News Bears Go to Japan.”<

While making an appearance in Las Vegas, Cheryl (Heather Burns), the not-Miss-America-by-a-long-shot who was Gracie’s pal the first time around, and Stan, the aforementioned pageant host, are kidnaped and held for ransom. For inexplicable reasons, the bureau decides to send Gracie to Vegas as a P.R. move to get them some good publicity. For even more inexplicable reasons, they decide to assign as her bodyguard a tough-talking female agent (Regina King) who has made it plain that she hates Gracie as much as Gracie hates her. For reasons that defy any rational explanation, this tough cookie character (you know, like Bullock was the first time around) has been given the name of Sam Fuller, apparently an act of misbegotten homage to the legendary director of such pulp classics as “Shock Corridor” and “The Naked Kiss.” Perhaps this was done as an in-joke for devoted film buffs; if so, perhaps writer Marc Lawrence should have realized that, aside from incredulous critics, the kind of person who would quickly pick up on the usage of the name Sam Fuller is unlikely to be attending a film such as “Miss Congeniality 2" in the first place.<

You can fill in the rest of the blanks yourself. Gracie will find herself drawn into working on the case instead of simply posing for photo ops. She and Sam will hate each other, only to develop a mutual respect after beating the crap out of each other. Both will find themselves going undercover in an array of ridiculous disguises (Bullock as a showgirl and an elderly Jewish woman, King as a nurse and Tina Turner). Many popular, non-threatening songs will be heard on the soundtrack and there is even a cameo from a singing star whose appearance is the epitome of both good sportsmanship and bad stunt doubling. The good people will triumph, the bad will be arrested or publicly humiliated and Gracie will learn the valuable lesson that who a person is on the inside is far more important than surface features–a nice sentiment, though one hard to take in a film that lavishes close-up after close-up designed to remind us of how adorable Bullock looks.<

The actors are just as rote. The reason that people sparked to Sandra Bullock in the first place was because she had a low-key and offbeat charm that was intensely appealing, but now, all she does is dither around in a desperate attempt to remind viewers of how adorable she used to be a decade age–all she winds up doing is reminding people that those days are long gone with a performance that, in the way that it dredges up the past without any genuine wit or warmth, comes off like celluloid Botox. King gets to do another one of those annoyingly abrasive roles that seem to be one of the few options available to black actresses not named Halle Berry–hopefully her work in “Ray” will ensure that she isn’t stuck with such parts forever. Shatner is . . .Shatner, though his approach of self-aware hamminess has gone on long past its expiration date. The one curve ball is the fact that the inevitable role of the jerky boss (male, natch) who refuses to take Gracie’s sleuthing seriously and tries to run her out of town is played by none other than Treat Williams. This may mean nothing to you, but to someone who can remember the long-ago time when he was regarded as the next Great American Actor and who has been waiting patiently for his landmark performance in “Prince of the City” to make its long-overdue DVD debut, I must admit that seeing him spouting all the dumb boss cliches and getting dumped in the drink for his troubles did make an impression–a sad and depressing impression, but an impression nevertheless.<

Even if you ignored the lack of originality, this film would still be worthless because it simply isn’t funny. Take the aforementioned scene in which Bullock is made up to look like an old lady. Instead of giving her something funny to do to propel the scene, the filmmakers seem convinced that the mere sight of her as an old crone is inherently hilarious. The jokes are so uniformly weak and uninspired that when the occasional funny line does crop up, it appears to have come purely by accident, much like the fabled 100 monkeys with 100 typewriters eventually coming up with “Hamlet”; the difference here is that the rest of the script feels like the typical output (literary and otherwise) of such an experiment.

I can recall two moments during “Miss Congeniality 2"(which is, after all, supposed to be a comedy) where I actually found myself laughing. The first comes early one when the Shatner character claims that he once portrayed Iago in a production of “Twelfth Night”; this is funny because Shatner is one of the few people who can say such a line and make it almost sound plausible. The other is at the very end during the all-but-inevitable collection of outtakes where the stars crack each other up by blowing their lines. Like most such compilations, none of them are especially amusing but the very nerve of attaching a blooper reel to something as sloppy and unprofessional as this film struck me as strangely funny–the cinematic equivalent of bringing coals to Newcastle.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11800&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/25/05 00:37:46
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User Comments

5/23/13 Jamie Did not like any where near as much as the first one 2 stars
4/02/08 superfriek Shut up and drive 1 stars
2/02/07 William Goss To quote the film: "Usually they given an epidural for agony like this." 1 stars
10/26/05 Frank Rountree If you like Sandra Bullock, it's a fair movie, at least for one time viewing 3 stars
7/19/05 the arabian I think if sandra act a ten men movie I will love it !! 3 stars
7/17/05 Roy Smith Kill everyone involved - no pause, no mercy. 1 stars
6/27/05 Jim Dennen Replaces Gigli as the worst film in modern day ! Totally pathetic effort. 1 stars
6/08/05 Valerie G. Just as good as the first one! Very good. 4 stars
5/11/05 Katie Malone Pretty good compared to the original 4 stars
4/26/05 E-FUNK thr pain of having seen this film resonates to this day. 1 stars
4/18/05 Renita Long the first one was more than enough 1 stars
4/17/05 Sharon Davis Bad Bad for a #2 movie, bad 1 stars
4/17/05 Brianne boring 2 stars
4/05/05 Eugene Mortensen worst film of the year 1 stars
4/05/05 impartial judgement worse than speed 2 1 stars
4/05/05 killbill03 Just shoot me now! 2 stars
4/05/05 Johannah Brookwell Could have been so much better 3 stars
4/04/05 Rachelle Girl Power rocks ;) 5 stars
4/03/05 M sandra your awesome!!! this was not!! 3 stars
3/29/05 Lyn its a pretty good movie! 4 stars
3/29/05 Led Cute and great message. everyone was laughing and having a good time. 5 stars
3/25/05 malcontent bullock's great, but not here 2 stars
3/25/05 Michael Dodge Sandra is a lovely warm person 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  24-Mar-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 21-Jun-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  24-Mar-2005




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