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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MISS CONGENIALITY 2 (article first published : 2005-04-27)

Subtitled Armed and Fabulous, this is a glossy sequel to the fun romantic comedy Miss Congeniality. Five years ago, this had Sandra Bullock as a tomboy FBI agent forced to pose as a Miss America beauty pageant contestant to nail a criminal. Miss Congeniality 2 lacks originality but, thanks only to Bullock's easy charm, makes for a passable matinee bet.

It does, however, under the direction of John Pasquin, seem to overstay its welcome. Bullock's Gracie Hart, having found fame in the first film, has now been commissioned by the FBI to do the talk show circuit in the interest of good publicity for the bureau.

But when Miss America and Gracie's pal, Cheryl (Heather Burns), and the pageant's host, Stan (an irritating William Shatner), are kidnapped in Nevada by two heavies, agent Hart is called upon to hop to their rescue. She is teamed with a bodyguard with anger issues, a woman called Sam Fuller (Regina King of Ray), and the two simply do not hit if off - a plot aside that hogs a fair chunk of the film's running time.

However, the mismatched agents have to pull their weight to nail the thugs, their ludicrously convoluted plan of action including them donning disguises. These include playing a wheelchair-bound mother and nurse and, in Las Vegas, posing as men pretending to be women - Fuller doing a Tina Turner routine and Hart boobing as Dolly Parton. It doesn't take long before the two land in hot water with the Nevada FBI chief, Collins (Treat Williams). He has ambitions of writing a book and isn't too chuffed that Hart and Fuller might be raining on his parade.

The film may be wholly predictable and becomes increasingly silly, but there are some laughs to be had and Bullock fans will find her as cheerful and lovely as ever.

The film also features Enrique Murciano, Diedrich Bader, Abraham Benrubi and Nick Offerman. Rating: 5./10. - Billy Suter




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