Lacking Hart & Congeniality
So whilst "Miss Congeniality" was a fun movie and reminded us of how funny Sandra Bullock can be, it has to be said that it was also run of the mill, not a movie which would instantly spring to mind as sequel worthy. But lo and behold we got one whether we wanted it or not and in 2005 "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous" arrived. The good news is that "Miss Congeniality 2" not just a complete rehash of the first movie, the bad news is that it is disappointing and everything which made the first movie enjoyable such as comedy and characters which made you smile, has been completely lost. It's sad really because what "Miss Congeniality 2" ends up is an exercise in how to make a poor sequel.
Having unintentionally become a public figure thanks to her appearance in the Miss USA pageant, Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock - Crash) now finds it impossible to work as an undercover FBI Agent. Her only choice is to become the public face of the FBI and along with agent with an attitude Sam Fuller (Regina King - Ray); tour the country doing book signings and public appearances. But when her friend Miss USA along with pageant compeer Stan Fields (William Shatner) are taken hostage and held to ransom, Gracie decides she has to do something even if it means going against her bosses orders.
Where do I start when it comes to the problems with "Miss Congeniality 2" well I would have to say it's the character of Gracie Hart, who despite being a bit of a hard nosed tom boy first time round was still likeable because the character was a fish out of water. But this time the character is destroyed, Gracie for some reason is now nearly hateful and so self centred that it's impossible to warm to her even when her sensitive side shows. The ineptness from the first movie is also missing which made Gracie so much fun in an obvious but humorous slap stick sort of way. None of this it has to be said is the fault of Sandra Bullock who tries her best to play for laughs but fails because of the change in character.
If it wasn't the issue over Gracie Hart it would be the storyline which spoils "Miss Congeniality 2", because there is no real storyline. So yes, you have Miss America and Stan Fields being held for ransom but in between the occasional mention of it, there is nothing, there is no fish out of water situation to entertain, or semi romance between characters it's just empty. Which at just short of 2 hours that is a long movie to be devoid of any real storyline, or at least one which makes you want to watch.
But adding to the misery is the whole range of characters, something which was so strong in the first, but here again it feels empty. As already mentioned Sandra Bullock struggles with the change in Gracie Hart, but it is the others which fail to help. Gone is Michael Caine, quite understandably, but in place we have Diedrich Bader as Joel Meyers who over camps it as a stylist and ends up grating on your nerves. Also departed is Benjamin Bratt and to be honest we don't get a replacement, instead we get Regina King as Agent with an attitude Sam Fuller, a character which is so wooden it's painful. The only saving grace is the reappearance of William Shatner as Stan Fields, who in those very few scenes he makes an appearance is at least genuinely amusing, especially when he is videotaping the ransom message. But that is it, there is nothing else to the characters, not even Treat Williams, Ernie Hudson and Abraham Benrubi manage to add anything to the movie.
So with all these obvious issues it's pretty obvious when I say that "Miss Congeniality 2" is not really funny. I can actually count the laughs on about one hand, with much of what was designed to cause humour failing to deliver because of the absurdity of it. It has that feeling of being out of balance, as if when writing "Miss Congeniality 2" they came up with an idea for the storyline, then decided to try and pep it up with some quasi action and then realised what they had was pretty boring so threw what should be funny scenes into it, but didn't take in to account that they didn't really fit into the storyline or with what went before in the first movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Miss Congeniality 2" is a major disappointment, not a complete stinker of a movie, but one which really should have been pulled before it even started filming. It's too different to the first movie, with changes in characters but it also lacks that sweet humour which was prevalent first time round, making it feel cold and devoid of warmth. I just hope that at some point in the future that someone doesn't decide to try and resurrect the series with another misguided outing for Gracie Hart.