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"Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous"



"Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous" ... shoddy fare.

WADING THROUGH this junky sequel to her genial goofball hit ''Miss Congeniality,'' Sandra Bullock looks as if she would rather be shovelling pig waste — though of course in some respects that is exactly what she is doing. Set a mere three weeks after the first film, which was released in 2000, "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous" finds Bullock as the charmingly clumsy FBI agent, Gracie Hart, vainly fending off unwanted celebrity.

After Gracie's cover is blown during a bank heist, endangering her and every other undercover agent on her team, the powers that be decide that she should become ``the face of the FBI.''

And so, after a consult with the obligatory swishy style guru, Joel (Diedrich Bader), Gracie undergoes yet another transformation, one designed to strip every ounce of charm and integrity from her character.

Usually an effervescent screen presence, Bullock turns in a performance as flat as day-old Champagne. It is hard not to blame her, particularly given the shoddy work by both the screenwriter Marc Lawrence, who helped write the first "Miss Congeniality," and the director, John Pasquin.

It isn't just that "Miss Congeniality 2" is nearly absent a single genuine laugh; it is that instead of a screenplay and a story we now have stereotypes and sketch comedy. In place of screwball heroics and wish-fulfillment the filmmakers give us jokes about some curious gender unease, particularly between Gracie and an angry female agent, Sam Fuller, played by the talented actress Regina King. Agent Fuller spends much of the movie smacking Gracie around really hard, a peculiar tic that only becomes more so as the movie dribbles along.

NYT

MANOHLA DARGIS

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