A tired and unnecessary sequel thatís as bland and clueless as the airhead beauty queens it tries to lampoon.
Last summer saw something unusual at your local multiplex Ė sequels that were actually very good. Spiderman 2 and The Bourne Supremacy managed to please audiences and studio chiefs by improving on the original films and still make a lot of cash. But if you thought this was the beginning of a new dawn then think again. Last week I had the misfortune to catch three sequels in two days and all of them were considerably worse than the original films. The other two will remain nameless (for now) but Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous was one of them. Given that the 2000 original was only just passable, I didnít have much hope for this one. My pessimism was justified.
After the first film Sandra Bullockís FBI agent Gracie Hart finds that she has become a celebrity and therefore canít go on undercover jobs. Her bosses decide that she should be a glitzy spokesman for the Bureau and whilst in Las Vegas she gets caught up in a kidnapping plot involving Miss America. That is basically it. Throw in some token supporting characters like a grumpy sidekick (Regina King) and a camp stylist (Diedrich Bader), some Ďhilariousí cameos (Dolly Parton) and you have a sequel scraped right from the bottom of the studio barrel.
The main offence Miss Congeniality 2 commits is that not only are the gags mercilessly recycled from the first film, but the whole enterprise reeks of laziness. At no point in the film is there an original or interesting development. It could be argued that the point of sequels is that they give audiences the same things they liked the first time around but here that philosophy is taken too far. The comic approach lacks any wit or imagination and the plot consists of loosely connected comic set pieces that just fall flat (e.g. Gracie and her partner donít get on! They sing undercover at a drag club! No-one believes anything they say!). It is also populated by some truly lame stereotypes: indignant FBI bosses, clumsy kidnappers and a partner who is awkward to start with but (youíve guessed it) a friend in the end.
Part of the reason this film exists must be down to the fact that Sandra Bullockís career has stalled quite badly in the last few years. Since her promising and star making turn in Speed she has appeared in tedious romantic comedies (Forces of Nature, Two Weeks Notice), ill advised comic dramas (28 Days), lame thrillers (Murder By Numbers), a sequel even worse than this one (Speed 2: Cruise Control) and, of course, the original Miss Congeniality. It says a lot about the previous films that this was the one Warner Bros wanted to make a sequel to. Despite all this, I still think in the right kind of role Bullock could be an interesting actress, but if she agrees to Miss Congeniality 3 then Iím willing to retract that statement for good.
The official site has some unintentionally funny video footage of the world premiere in London. Some fans in Leicester Square reliably inform us that there is “something wicked” about Sandra Bullock and that she seems “really real”. Vote for your favourite Bullock film at this extensive fansite (as I write Miss Congeniality is in the lead by a whopping 51% but Speed gets my vote) and check out the real Miss America here.