Sandra Does It Again
Three weeks after the events of Miss Congeniality, Gracie Hart has finally connected with her inner diva. Because of her new-found fame as the runner-up of the Miss America pageant, Gracie (Sandra Bullock) is asked to be the new “face” of the FBI. She gets styled to within an inch of her life, and starts appearing on talk shows to try and bolster the bureau’s uncool image. The new Gracie is gorgeous, glamorous and oh-so confident -- worlds apart from the surly, unfeminine Gracie of the first film. In fact, she’s been made over into a media-friendly superstar.
But when Miss America, Cheryl Frasier (Heather Burns), and the pageant’s emcee, Stan Fields (William Shatner), are kidnapped and held for ransom, Gracie must once again save the day. The fabulous new Gracie now has a foil in the shape of a mannish sidekick, agent Sam Fuller (Regina King). They manage to track the kidnappers to Las Vegas, where in a very funny scene they have to go undercover as drag queens. Yes, that’s right -- they’re women pretending to be men pretending to be women, the same idea used in the recent Connie and Carla.
Miss Congeniality 2 really is entertainment at its most camp. As if all that Las Vegas glitz wasn’t enough, there’s a hilarious cameo by Dolly Parton as well as an outrageous drag show featuring about a dozen Tina Turner impersonators.
On the serious side though, the film repeatedly brings up the subject of positive role models for women, but it doesn’t really seem to portray any. The character of Gracie Hart is certainly well-meaning most of the time, but she vacillates between two extremes. She’s either an aggressive tomboy who uses violence to solve arguments, or she’s a beauitiful, but shallow, Barbie-like character without a hair out of place. And Heather Burns’ character, Miss America, reinforces just about every negative stereotype about beauty queens -- she parrots on about world peace like she’s supposed to, but everything else in her behaviour suggests that she’s just a vacuous air-head. Surely these are not good role models?
That said, this sequel is primarily a crowd-pleasing comedy. It may be crass and unsubtle, and some of the writing is lazy, but for the most part Miss Congeniality 2 comes up with the laughs. And it's made just about watchable by its charming star, Sandra Bullock, a gifted comedic actress.
(Released by Warner Bros. and rated "PG-13" for violence and sex-related humor.)