Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005)
From its first scene until its last, the film is entirely clichéd. There is not an event that occurs that the viewer will not be able to foresee. The second Sam is introduced, for instance, the moviegoer knows that she and Gracie will hate one another, but that, by the movie's end, they will have become friends. Seeing how Gracie is caught up in her celebrity lifestyle, the viewer cannot help but realize that, inevitably, the character will remember who she really is at heart, and witnessing how her narrow-minded colleagues and arrogant superiors refuse to take her seriously, how they oppose all her plans, and how they scoff at each of her insights, he will have no doubt both that she will prove her worth by never being wrong and that they will eventually get their comeuppance.
What is more, not only is the movie hackneyed, it often terribly clumsy. Narrative threads from the first film are ineptly explained away. Attempts at cleverness, such as naming Gracie's new partner Sam Fuller, are pretentious in a juvenile way. Sequences in which Gracie and Sam bond are painfully uncomfortable, and a concluding scene, in which the heroine visits the class of a young girl who admires her is just atrocious.
Even with so many contrived and ghastly elements and such a rehashed narrative, Miss Congeniality 2 actually manages to be enjoyable, thanks largely to Sandra Bullock. While I will not claim that the actress displays any great talents in her role, she does bring to it so much vibrancy and such a sense of goofy, awkward fun that she actually manages to infect the viewer with that silliness. Consequently, while he may groan when Gracie pretends to be an elderly Jewish woman in order to extract information from the residents of a retirement home, or when she and Sam perform a song and dance number in a drag club while the latter is dressed like Tina Turner and the former like a showgirl, or when the protagonist marches past hordes of drearily garbed FBI agents while brightly attired like a celebrity, such sequences are still likely to make him smile.
Miss Congeniality 2 may be a bad movie, but it is never boring. In fact, it is often genuinely enjoyable.
Review by Keith Allen
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