Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous

As the weather starts to warm, indicating the coming spring and summer seasons, scores of sequels arrive at local box offices. Sequels have always been desired by Hollywood because, thanks in part to the success of previous titles in the series, a built in audience helps assure big openings.

With the Ring 2 kicking off the sequel frenzy to solid numbers this year, Warner Bros. is hoping to cash in on the success of the Sandra Bullock hit Miss Congeniality, with the release of Miss Congeniality 2 :Armed and Fabulous.

The film opens a few weeks after the events of the first film and underscores agent Gracie Hart’s struggles to get back into field work now that she’s a celebrity. When an undercover operation goes sour in part to Gracie’s new found notoriety, it is decided that she will be removed from field work and placed as the new face of the F.B.I. in an effort to increase public image. Assigned to watch her back, Gracie is partnered with a no-nonsense agent named Sam Fuller (Regina King), who has severe attitude issues and is less than thrilled to watch over Gracie especially when Gracie has become a diva thanks to her new found celebrity and numerous appearances on talk shows.

When the current Miss America, and good friend, Cheryl (Heather Burns) is kidnapped along with pageant host Stan Fields (William Shatner), Gracie sets off to Vegas in an effort to help with the case. Her notoriety and unorthodox tactics runs afoul of the local agent in charge Collins (Treat Williams), who wants nothing more than for Gracie to head back to New York and make his life easier.

While the film does have an interesting setup, it soon becomes an overlong sketch comedy as Gracie and Sam show up in costumes ranging from an old Jewish retiree to Tina Turner, with sadly very few laughs in between. I was a big fan of the first film but this effort seems like a project that was created simply to cash in on the success of the first without offering anything new.

The charm and wit of the first film are sadly missed, as this film just plods along without any real payoff. Bullock seems to be walking through her part without the sparkle and shine that made her the beloved girl next door. Fuller seems to have only two emotions and that is pure rage or exasperation. The rest of the cast does not fare much better as Shatner is forced to vamp it up with very little to work with. Only Diedrich Bader gets some laughs albeit cheaply playing the over the top flamboyant fashion consultant named Joel.

Michael Caine and Benjamin Bratt are noticeably absent from this sequel. It seems that they wisely decided to stay clear of this clunker. I had hoped that this film would recapture some of the charm of the original but it plays out as an uninspired effort that seems to have had very little care put into it. My advice, save this for a rental.

2 stars out of 5