Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous is an all out assault on movie-going America. A gigantic fuck you to anyone foolish enough to buy a ticket. This is what comedy would look like were it directed by Uwe Boll, a movie created, written, and directed by people who obviously hate their audience so much that they get off on savaging their senses. When the movie makes a mint at the box office, they’ll be laughing at you Mr. & Mrs. Public for sitting through their well-hardened turd. It can’t be this bad on accident, clearly someone set out to kick quality movie-making in the groin. Miss Congeniality 2 wants to be critically beaten to death, and so I will oblige.
It took five years for a sequel to 2000’s mildly successful Miss Congeniality to happen. I hope you have a good memory, because the follow up requires an intimate knowledge of everything that happened in that movie in order to make any sense. It begins three weeks after the first movie ends, a bizarre choice considering the extremely long amount of real world time that’s passed since the first one. The story carries on as if you’ve seen the previous movie yesterday, with Agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) trying to deal with her newfound fame. Armed and Fabulous quickly jumps to having Gracie dumped by her boyfriend from the previous movie, just to get that out of the way. Of course they couldn’t actually get Benjamin Bratt to show up for the dumping, so it takes place over an awkward, overly staged, horribly brief, one-sided phone call. It looks like exactly what it is, Sandra Bullock sitting on a counter nattering to herself.
Shortly after her badly scripted phone jilt, Gracie decides to give up on everything she believes in and become the Barbie pin-up face of the FBI. She informs the FBI director, who then promptly tells her to let him know what she decides. She tells him again, and I guess this time he believes her since he hires a gay guy to turn her into a perfect celebrity. Flash forward ten months later and Gracie has become a horrible person. She’s shallow, vapid, and completely self-absorbed. Her days are spent on the talk show circuit, and when she’s not using her assistants to kick Regis in the nuts, she’s treating them like second-rate garbage. Gracie is on a major star trip, except for the inexplicable moments when her character goes right back to being her old self. She sort of ping-pongs back and forth between the two personas from one scene to the next. Is she a diva’d out, spoiled prima-donna or a no-nonsense FBI loyalist thrust into doing a job she doesn’t really like? The script can’t make up its damn mind and leaves Bullock flailing around like a constipated chicken. One minute you’re wishing death on her for being such an asshole the next you’re watching a completely different character. Were this a soap opera, this could be easily explained at the end with the revelation of an evil twin sister, but Armed and Fabulous isn’t even smart enough to match wits with a daytime soap.
After a lot more squawking and flapping about, the plot starts to kick in. Gracie’s old friend Miss USA (Heather Burns) has been kidnapped, along with everyone’s favorite effeminate pageant consultant Stan Fields (William Shatner). Shatner was easily the best thing about the previous movie, but here he’s been gagged, quite literally. They stuff a rag in his mouth and the guy just sits around looking red and puffy for the three or four seconds he’s allowed to be in the movie. When the gag does come out, he’s barely permitted a sentence before someone interrupts him to spout something insipid and boring. The man has fewer than three lines in the entire film, and of those only one is even clearly audible.
With her friends held hostage, Gracie springs into action. She flies to Las Vegas where the FBI has assigned her to handle public relations for the case. Gracie is of course not content to actually do her job, and starts poking her nose into the investigation against the FBI’s wishes. She quickly figures out what the FBI cannot, by doing things like interviewing Stan Fields’ mom. Apparently the FBI is so incompetent they don’t bother to talk to the kidnap victims’ family members, preferring instead to stare blankly at satellite photos without comprehending anything in them. Having now become a mindless, over-made buffoon, all this investigating provides plenty of opportunity for Gracie to be cute in stylish skirts and impractical, over-feminine costumes. Gone is the take-no-prisoners, strong woman forced to waste time with a bunch of airheads from the previous film. In her place is a less well-meaning version of Reese Witherspoon, flown directly in from the set of Legally Blonde 2. Hey Gracie, here’s a thought: if the feathered hat is too big to fit in the car, why not take it off instead of opening the sunroof to engage in hot pursuit?
Miss Congeniality 2 wanders on from there, growing progressively worse each second it spends up on screen. The characters are loathsome and Marc Lawrence’s script is a confused mess of half-plots and uncertain timing. John Pasquin directs what he’s given with all the flair of a driver’s ed video, though perhaps I can’t blame him for failing to get enthused about a movie like this. The script makes absolutely no sense. Why bother making it? How can five years of work on a sequel produce something as horrifically abortive as this? The first movie wasn’t exactly gold, but this one is mind-sucking death. I resent the human race for allowing a movie like Miss Congeniality 2 exist and what’s more I resent the self-abusing audience I saw it with for enjoying it. You aren’t required to laugh just because the movie was free. Have some self-respect people.
It’s movies like Miss Congeniality 2 that are killing the movie industry, not piracy or internet movie scoopers. This is a movie so fiercely devoted to being ass-rapingly terrible; it’ll put you right off going to the theater. “There’s a cannon in my porthole,” declares William Shatner, getting the most out of his one real line (and not-so-coincidentally the only funny one) in the film. Yes there is Mr. Shatner, and its name is Miss Congeniality 2.