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May 13, 2006 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | May 13, 2006 |

About 45 minutes into Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, when the snoring gentleman behind me got to be a bit too much, I decided to take a walk, a nice stroll around the theater lobby to keep myself awake. Outside, at one of those secondary concession stands that only opens during the evenings when the crowds call for it, a mentally retarded man stood, money in hand, waiting on someone that would never arrive to take his popcorn order. I walked the length of the lobby, took a detour to the restroom, and returned several minutes later to find the man still standing expectantly, sadly peering at the assorted candies beneath the dimly lit glass.

Back inside, as I returned to my seat to suffer through the last half of the film, I felt a lot like that man: somber, disheveled, and eager, waiting for the film to make me laugh, just once (just once!); but, it seemed that — despite the $10 I’d forked over — Armed and Fabulous simply wasn’t open for business. Indeed, Sandra Bullock’s Miss Congeniality sequel didn’t even warrant the venomous diatribes I reserve for films worthy of my scorn; instead, Armed and Fabulous only inspires apathy, a general indifference to what’s going on onscreen, and a tiny hope that the credits might mercifully save us from this lethargy.

The movie picks up a few weeks after the original left off, when suddenly recognizable FBI Agent Gracie Hart (Bullock) gets her cover blown during a bank-robbery sting. Soon thereafter, her boyfriend (presumably Benjamin’s Bratt’s character from the original film) dumps her, and her life (yawn!) begins to crumble. Looking to make a positive contribution to the bureau and put her life back together, Hart uses her newfound fame to become the “new face” of the FBI, meaning, of course, that Bullock gets to shed her dreary FBI uniform once more and reapply some mascara!

In that department, Hart is assisted by a fashion consultant (the usually funny Deidrich Bader), who has the misfortune of being not only a gay caricature, but also bland, incapable of even playing up his stereotypical qualities to comic effect; apparently, the screenwriter (Marc Lawrence) was under the mistaken belief that making the personal assistant gay was funny in and of itself, and didn’t feel the need to bother writing the poor guy something funny to say. And, because no uninspired whitebread comedy is complete without the sassy African-American, Regina King is also thrown into this drab affair, cast as Hart’s anger management-challenged bodyguard, Sam Fuller — She’s black! And she’s angry! Hilarious! Four stars!!!


At any rate, there is sort of a plot to go along with the nondescript stereotypes; it involves the kidnapping of Miss USA and Stan Fields (Shatner, reprising his role). Hart and Fuller are called upon to relocate from NYC to Vegas to deal with the PR surrounding the abduction, allowing the filmmakers to use Treasure Island as a prop and squeeze all of the comedy one could fathom out of the linguistic confusion between “slots” and “sluts.” Inevitably, the two involve themselves in solving the crime, which basically demands that Hart and Fuller: 1) hate one another for three-fourths of the movie; 2) bond over some inane common experience; 3) save one another’s life; and 4) reluctantly befriend each other over donuts in the end.

Between the first “catfight” and the “you’ve always got a friend in me” bullshit, there is plenty more not to give a damn about, including Elisabeth Röhm and Treat Williams, who barely register as the Vegas FBI Agents who get into the requisite jurisdictional pissing match with Hart. We are also blessed with a scene in which Hart races through the Bellagio to tackle a Dolly Parton look-alike only to learn that — oh, you’re going laugh at this one — she’s the real Dolly Parton (though, it’s hard to tell with all the plastic surgery she’s gone through). Finally, we get a finale in which the supposed strong female role model resorts to using her menstrual cycle as a diversion to ward off the men assigned to escort her; it wasn’t enough that the filmmakers had to offend African-Americans and homosexuals, they also felt the need to send the feminist movement back to the Eisenhower Years. Ain’t that kick-in-the-ass funny?!

Through it all, Director John Pasquin guides us with the talent one would expect from a director most noted for helming Tim Allen features: The jokes not only fall flat, but, in most of the scenes, the timing is so awkward it’s as though the actors don’t even realize their lines were meant to elicit laughter. I’m not a particular fan of Bullock, but I appreciate the charming spirit she generally brings to her roles; here, unfortunately, she and her otherwise talented cast-mates, King and Bader, seem to suffocate beneath the painfully flimsy script. Indeed, it says a lot about the merits of Armed and Fabulous that a feebleminded schmo would rather gawk at a nacho dispenser for half an hour than spend that time in front of this limp, dead fish.

Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and managing partner of its parent company, which prefers to remain anonymous for reasons pertaining to public relations. He lives in Ithaca, New York.

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous / Dustin Rowles

Film | May 13, 2006 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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