Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sandra Bullock, Regina King, Enrique Murciano Jr., Diedrich Bader, Ernie Hudson, William Shatner, Treat Williams, Elisabeth Rohm, Lusia Strus, Nick Offerman, Abraham Benrubi, Heather Burns, Leslie Erin Grossman, William O'Leary, John DiResta
Written by: Marc Lawrence
Directed by: John Pasquin
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sex-related humor
Running Time: 96
Date: 03/18/2013

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005)

1/2 Star (out of 4)

Big 'Miss'-Take

By Rob Blackwelder, SPLICEDwire

Sandra Bullock isn't doing her underappreciated talent any favors byappearing in Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous, a relentlesslydim-witted sequel to her 2000 hit about a tomboy FBI agent goingundercover at a beauty pageant.

The first Miss Congeniality was itself so hackneyed that the actress's Lucille-Ball-like gift for guffaws was just about its only saving grace, and the same fate befalls her here. Bullock's delivery of a few choice one-liners is the sole source of laughs in this clunker, and it's amazing to see her pull them off when her character has, without explanation, turned into a vapid, shallow, egocentric Barbie doll nitwit after becoming an implausible spokesmodel for the FBI.

It seems after her exposure at the Miss United States beauty pageant in the first picture, the bureau decided she could best serve her country by being tarted up literally in satin and bows, and paraded around on a waving-and-smiling publicity tour of talk shows and personal appearances.

How turning tough, awkward Sandy into a giggly bimbo snob and putting her up in four-star hotel suites is supposed to help the FBI's image is never clear -- and neither are her reasons for doing it, let alone allowing this ludicrous makeover to consume her personality. But having willingly become a ditz, she finds it hard to be taken seriously when the soggy, nonsensical plot kicks in with the kidnapping of the even more airheaded pageant winner from Miss Congeniality (Heather Burns) and the pageant's MC (William Shatner) in Las Vegas.

Even though 45 agents are working on the case, Bullock is the only one who finds a whole host of rather obvious clues, so she strikes out on her own (albeit with the help of her angry, butch bodyguard and her stereotypically fey stylist) to solve the case. This involves asinine excuses for donning silly disguises (old lady, drag queen), pointless celebrity cameos (she tackles Dolly Parton in a case of mistaken identity), and rescue attempts at locations that serve as shamelessly blatant advertisements for Las Vegas attractions but make little sense in the context of the plot.

Returning writer Marc Lawrence provides Bullock the occasional sharp witticism, which she makes even better with her great timing and delivery, while burdening most everyone else with inane exposition. Director John Pasquin (of the utterly inept Joe Somebody and Jungle 2 Jungle) at least knows enough not to get in Bullock's way when she's on a roll. But neither writer nor director makes any attempt to patch gaping holes in the plot (most story-advancing actions of the biker-thug kidnappers and the other FBI agents come out of nowhere), and neither of them seems to have a problem with turning Bullock's character into an childish imbecile destined to learn trite Life Lessons in the last reel.

Sandra Bullock has recently been quoted as saying she's fed up with being pigeonholed and wants to take more risks as an actress. Too bad she couldn't have had this burst of integrity before being roped into her worst movie since her last contractual-obligation sequel -- Speed 2: Cruise Control.

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