Judge Ryan Keefer's first DVD review covers the politics and police work of the FBI. April Fools! It's just Miss Congeniality 2—Armed and Fabulous.
"Wake up and smell the iced vente decaf caramel macchiato!"
Sandra Bullock had a surprise hit in 2000, when she decided to exploit some of her beauty and cleaned up real nice as a undercover FBI agent in Miss Congeniality. But is the magic still there?
Facts of the Case
Gracie Hart has returned from the Miss United States pageant and is back on the job, weeks after her widely recognized undercover work. She quickly finds out that returning to her normal role is tougher than she expected. After being dumped by her new boyfriend, she's her boss McDonald (Ernie Hudson, Oz) convinces her that she should become "the face of the FBI," and give the Bureau some positive publicity with her looks and newfound fame.
Things take a turn for the worse when Gracie's friend Cheryl (Heather Burns, Bewitched) and pageant host Stan (William Shatner, The Practice) are kidnapped and held for ransom by two brothers from Las Vegas. Gracie goes to Vegas to provide media support for the Bureau's Vegas office, but also "meddles" in the investigation, headed by the local Agent in Charge (Treat Williams, Everwood). Given Gracie's new visibility, she's assigned a bodyguard, a fellow agent named Sam (Regina King, Ray), who has had problems controlling her emotions in the past. The two manage to try all measures possible to ensure Cheryl and Stan are returned unharmed.
The box office success of Miss Congeniality and similar films that big studios have produced has resulted in problems for the average moviegoer. First and foremost, just how plausible can a sequel be? How many people are clamoring for it? Honestly, sequels only should be left to comic book genre films and Peter Jackson. It's a shame that with the money paid to the returning stars of a successful first film, no sequel in pre-production ever seems to give consideration (or money) to the sequel writers, and consequently there wind up being very few, if any, new angles that you can enjoy. Sandra Bullock does the occasional pratfall and gets in fights—we get it. So why am I seeing 115 MORE minutes of it?
The basic plot points are essentially carbon-copied from the first film and used here. The style consultant (and somewhat conservative homosexual role) played very well by Michael Caine in the first film has been recycled here, without too many changes, by Deidrich Bader (Napoleon Dynamite). Despite this, Bader seemed to have the most fun of anyone in the film. King isn't bad in her role, but "angry all the time" was the only emotion she seemed to play through the film. In her other films, like Higher Learning, Enemy of the State, and Jerry Maguire, not having a chip on her shoulder clearly made her a more colorful and memorable supporting actor. As a consequence, the chemistry between King and Bullock seems to be almost exclusively carried by Bullock.
Bullock does her normal solid job, which doesn't say too much lately. She looks cute and gets some occasional laughs, and probably hopes this rakes in enough box office to spawn similar films. It's encouraging to see her take challenging roles like the one as Jean in Crash. Hopefully she can scale down the "romantic comedy" portion of her body of work; its mileage has been used up. Aside from other notable actors who go wasted in almost non-existent supporting roles (Elisabeth Rohm from Law and Order being the prime example), almost all of the performances are phoned in.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
For better or worse, Warner continues to put together quality video releases, even when the theatrical product is wanting. It's admittedly somewhat flimsy to say that when all else fails, that the disc looks "real nice like"—but in each person's life, a little rain must fall. I choose to look at the rainbow here. The deleted scenes are decent and the trailer is nothing new. It's disappointing, but not a real tragedy, that no other extras are included.
Those who saw the first film aren't missing too much here. There are some moments that are quaint, but by and large, you're better off waiting for this to hit cable before checking it out The difference between the first and the second Miss Congeniality is that the pacing is incredibly slow on this one, and the laughs are a little scarce.
Warner Brothers' executives are found guilty of greenlighting such a disappointing sequel. The moviegoers who contributed to the $48 million that the film made are complicit in this crime, and large doses of Godfather II should be administered to educate the public on how good movie sequels can be. Sandra Bullock has made strides in correcting her behavior, so she is given community service in the hopes she will take more dramatic roles with well-known directors.
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