Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous Review
By Shawn McKenzie 09/10/2005
I liked 2000’s Miss Congeniality, but I really didn’t think that it needed a sequel. Since they made one anyway, at least Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous didn’t suck.
Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) is back as a field agent for the FBI, but since she has become famous for having gone undercover in a beauty pageant in the first movie, she has a hard time working on cases (this movie takes place about three weeks after where the first movie left off.) Getting a tip, the FBI has set up a sting to capture three bank-robbing housewives (Faith Minton, Eve Gordon, and Kim Morgan Greene.) Gracie and her partner Clonsky (John DiResta) pose as a couple pushing a baby stroller, complete with a mechanical baby with a camera in it. The robbers enter, but before Grace can capture them, a woman who knows the agent as Miss Congeniality recognizes her. Grace is distracted, and Clonsky is shot (he is okay, since he was wearing a bulletproof jacket.) Her superior, Agent Harry McDonald (Ernie Hudson), is upset about how the sting went down, so he proposes an alternative…for her to be “the new face of the FBI.” He realizes that she can’t be effective anymore as an undercover agent, but she can help the bureau with their public relations. Grace says that she has to think about it, but that night, her boyfriend, Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt, who doesn’t appear onscreen), breaks up with her over the phone. She then decides to take McDonald’s offer to be the “new face.” McDonald sets her up with a fashion consultant named Joel Myers (Diedrich Bader), and along with his hair and makeup team of Pam (Leslie Grossman) and Janine (Lusia Strus), they set out to boost the bureau’s public image using Grace. She also has to work with a fellow field agent named Sam Fuller (Regina King), who has been assigned to be Grace’s bodyguard. Sam is an angry woman who has a problem with authority, so Grace and Sam don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. Ten months later though, they are working together and making appearances on shows like “Live with Regis & Kelly” (Kelly Ripa isn’t in it herself; Regis Philbin’s wife Joy is in her place.) Grace has let fame get to her head, angering Sam (who decides to quit) and blowing off a little girl named Priscilla (Molly Gottlieb), who has asked Grace to come to her school to speak to her class, since Grace is her personal hero. While doing a book signing (the same one that Priscilla was at), Gracie finds out that the current Miss United States, her friend Cheryl Frazier (Heather Burns), has been kidnapped, along with the pageant’s emcee, Stan Fields (William Shatner.) The kidnappers are brothers Karl (Nick Offerman) and Lou Steele (Abraham Benrubi), and they work for a loan shark named Mr. Grant (David Proval.) They were originally hired to kidnap Stan for outstanding gambling debts owed to Grant, but when they hear of Grant’s plans to ransom Cheryl for millions, they dangle Grant over a dam, hoping to get a piece of the ransom. They decide to keep Cheryl and Stan for themselves when Grant’s offer isn’t enough. Gracie wants to help find her friend, but McDonald orders her to go to Las Vegas to handle the press instead, and assigns Sam to protect her (under the threat of losing her job.) Gracie and Sam meet Vegas FBI head Agent Walter Collins (Treat Williams), who debriefs them on the case. Cheryl and Stan were in Vegas on a goodwill tour, and they were at a retirement home visiting Stan’s mother Carol (Eileen Brennan) when they were kidnapped, according to a surveillance tape. Collins assigns rookie agent Jeff Foreman (Enrique Murciano) to assist them. Jeff’s girlfriend, Janet Picard (Elisabeth Röhm), who also works for the agency, can get tickets to anything that they want to see while staying in Vegas. When Gracie sees a ransom video on the news showing the kidnappers wanting five million dollars from the pageant by Friday or Cheryl and Stan will be dead, she realizes that she has to do something. She finds the limo driver, named Tom Abernathy (Stephen Tobolowsky), who had driven Cheryl and Stan to the retirement home. Tom had been paid $200 by a Dolly Parton impersonator to park far away from the entrance, making it easy for the kidnappers to snatch Cheryl and Stan. Even though Collins just wants Gracie to do her job as “FBI Barbie,” she takes it upon herself to find the kidnappers and get her friend back.
I liked seeing Bullock in what is probably her most famous character again. I actually thought that she had better chemistry with King in a buddy comedy sense than she did with Bratt. King has been the wife or buddy for so long that I think she will one day get a spotlight role soon. I knew that Bullock was going to do the snort and the “you know you liiiiike me” thing, both of which are a little annoying, but her comedy timing is great. She was even funny as the new character Ida Flamenbaum, the old lady character she dressed up as to get into the retirement home.
There were a few wasted performances in the movie. Shatner is barely in the movie, and his presence didn’t add anything to it. Williams is just not a comic actor, and he wasn’t funny here. I can’t wait to see him back on the WB’s “Everwood” in the fall again though. On the flipside, Murciano showed that he could do comedy, having logged time as the serious character Danny Taylor on the CBS procedural drama “Without a Trace.” I’m not saying that he was hilarious or anything, but at least he had better comic timing than Williams. I’m also glad that they didn’t make him the love interest for Bullock, which would have made the movie way too predictable.
Since I was a little late in writing this review (I originally saw the movie in March), I thought I would give you a couple of details about the DVD. There really aren’t a lot of special features, other than a few deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer.
John Pasquin directed Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. His resume includes several collaborations with comedian Tim Allen. Fortunately, he was able to effectively make a sequel that I don’t think a lot of people were exactly demanding. Sure…the first movie was cute, but I didn’t figure that the adventures of Gracie Hart needed to be made into a series of movies originally. She isn’t exactly Austin Powers, but I now wouldn’t mind seeing this beauty queen walk the catwalk again.
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