The previews for Miss Congeniality – Armed and Fabulous seemed about as enticing as a week-old burrito in the fridge, congealed cheese and all. Comedies are a tough bunch; they too often fall flat on their face after cramming all the funny stuff in the previews and leaving the rest of the movie hopelessly bland.
To say the least, hopes were not set that high. Surprisingly, the theater did fill up, even if it was with middle-aged women and their teenage daughters – presumably coerced under the pretenses of mother-daughter bonding time.
I should have known better than to judge Sandra Bullock, star and producer of the movie. You can’t hate Sandra Bullock for very long, she’s too pretty and pretty people deserve a chance.
The movie was uproariously funny. Gracie Hart, Bullock’s character, had previously successfully brought down the corrupt pageant coordinators’ attempt to blow up the Miss America crown and, in turn, Miss America.
In Miss Congeniality 2, Hart has become the “new face” of the FBI upon the insistence of her boss (Ernie Hudson), after her success in saving the Miss America Pageant has made her too recognizable for undercover busts in field work.
Again Hart undergoes the transformation from tomboy FBI agent to glamorous beauty queen, this time complete with a book deal and fan base.
Thankfully the director or the editor realized that the audience didn’t need to see the transformation this time, or maybe they just ran out of jokes involving hairspray, facials and bikinis. Either way the movie skips from Harts agreement to become the “new face” of the FBI to 10 months later.
The lapse in time finds Hart becoming used to the glamorous lifestyle and traveling. She has a personal stylist Joel (Diedrich Bader of The Drew Carey Show and The Beverly Hillbillies), hairdresser, private jets and limos.
Hart is in the middle of doing a talk show circuit (including a cameo by Regis Philbin) book signings and making speeches on behalf of the agency when her best friend from the pageant, Cheryl Frazier (Heather Burns) and Pageant emcee Stan Fields (William Shatner) are kidnapped and held for ransom. Hart flies out to Las Vegas to continue her PR front for the bureau with her standoffish bodyguard, agent Sam Fuller (Regina King).
The FBI tries to save Cheryl and Stan, but refuses to negotiate with the kidnappers who are demanding millions of dollars. When things look bleak, Hart has no option but to take matters into her own hands and get back to the real Agent Hart who cares about people and not just about how she looks.
Hart, her sidekick fashion expert, Joel, and bodyguard agent Sam Fuller go through a series of hilarious stunts to save Cheryl and Stan Fields, which is eclipsed only by the hilarity of the dialogue.
The know-it-all boss of the Las Vegas FBI (Treat Williams, of Everwood) is outshined by Hart who undermines his authority, but only because she is on to something.
The true Gracie Hart that audiences had fallen in love with the first time had just been hiding all this time, wrapped up in Gucci and carrying a Chanel bag.
Josh Chamberlain can be reached at Joshch@temple.edu.