NOW PLAYING: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous

Posted: Monday, March 28, 2005


  Sandra Bullock and Regina King in Warner Bros. Pictures' Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous - 2005 Rated: PG-13 Photo Copyright Warner Bros. P

Sandra Bullock and Regina King in Warner Bros. Pictures' Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous - 2005

Rated: PG-13

Photo Copyright Warner Bros. P

Now I don't mind a meaningless entertainment movie every now and again. I've seen plenty of silly comedies and pointless action flicks that held my interest with no problem. Not every movie is Schindler's List, nor should they be. What I don't like, however, is having my intelligence insulted. Don't tell me I'm watching a family-friendly comedy about the myriad roles women play in today's society when I am, in reality, watching a stock buddy caper with the subtlety of a Scooby Doo cartoon. That's where I draw the line.

Miss Congeniality 2, Sandra Bullock's return to the big screen after being mostly MIA since 2002, is, at least, inoffensive. Inoffensive as far as standards of decency go, I should say. I was offended, but more at the idea that professional screenwriters were actually paid for this mess. Our story begins three weeks after the the thrilling conclusion tot he first Miss Congeniality, though, in reality, that movie was released five years ago. Gracie Hart, Miss America runner-up and undercover FBI agent, is suddenly the toast of the town. Everyone wants to meet the little tomboy cop who saved all those princesses. As her status as a deep cover operative is pretty much blown, the Bureau decides that Gracie can best help the force by acting as a sort of Public Relations officer, putting a good face on the oft-maligned agency. However, this means that our dear Gracie will once more have to become "FBI Barbie," as she puts it, a horror she reluctantly agrees to. So, with her beauty team in tow (the director of the FBI, Ernie Hudson, actually utters the line, "Gather your beauty team and be on the plane by 0900 hours!") she makes the talk show and book signing tours, becoming ever the beauty and fashion conscious girl she supposedly cannot stand. The movie makes little more than a token effort to explain this transformation. Something about Benjamin Bratt's character dumping her and causing her self-esteem to crater. Bratt must not have been under contract, because he escapes this debacle entirely. For those who were worried about a lack of opposites attract wacky banter, fear not. There's a new tough girl on the block in the person of agent Samantha Fuller, portrayed with an air of perpetual disgust by Regina King. In the meantime, Gracie's pal, the real Miss America, has been kidnapped, along with her hapless host, Stan Fields, played by William Shatner, whose career has apparently enter full auto-destruct mode. Don't worry, though, by the end, Gracie will have toppled bad guys and gender walls to show that it's A-OK to be a girl and be different!

On the surface, MC2 is vapid, mindless, puffball entertainment that will illicit a few sympathetic chuckles and an even fewer honest laughs, but will leave the audience feeling blankly contented. But that's the problem. The movie claims to make a statement women's roles in society, as did the first film, but instead just reinforces the stereotypes it purports to break down. When you think about it, these films are actually sort of an odd phenomenon. They are, in essence, cross-dressing movies, like Tootsie, or Some Like it Hot. The difference is in those movies, it was a man dressing up as a woman. In the Congenialitys, Sandra Bullock is the one dressing up as a woman, putting on girl clothes to fool the public. In the latest film, they actually try to imitate the gender-benders of the mid-nineties (specifically To Wong Foo and Priscilla Queen of the Desert) by having Gracie, Sam, and her flamboyantly gay stylist enter a drag-queen lip-synching contest. Ok, here's a note to the screenwriters: Sandra Bullock is a woman, and a beautiful one at that. I'm missing the amazing transformation when she puts on the dress.

Predictable and formulaic to a tee, MC2 is teeming with bad dialogue, painful exposition, and lame characterizations. Diedrich Bader is completely wasted as a pseudo-Queer Eye guy with a part that screams, "I'm stealing the show!" and yet never does. It's also got lots of cute moments, and I even caught myself laughing a few times. A few enjoyable moments do not, however, make up for how excruciatingly long this movie feels. I tried to be good, but by the end I was audibly groaning and banging my head on the seat in front of me. Try as it might, this movie left very little to feel congenial about. Grade: D

Miss Congeniality 2 is rated PG-13 for brief sex-related humor.

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