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Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous

By Harry Forbes
Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Sequels are so often ill-advised, it's a pleasant surprise when one actually turns out well.

Such is the case with "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous" (Warner Bros.), the likable follow-up to "Miss Congeniality" (2000) with FBI agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock), fresh from foiling a plot against the "Miss United States" beauty pageant, after which she became a nationwide personality.

Now, back to her "regular" job, she attempts to go undercover to thwart a gang of bank robbers, but her celebrity status wreaks havoc when a pesky fan recognizes her at a crucial moment.

Realizing her cover has been blown more or less permanently, her boss (Ernie Hudson) decides to make her the prominent "face" of the FBI, sending her out on the talk-show circuit with an effete stylist (Diedrich Bader) in tow. Though she's a down-to-earth person, and her heart's not in the new assignment, the idea of a total glamour makeover has some appeal as her boyfriend (from the first film) has just dumped her.

On the road with reluctant partner Sam Fuller (Regina King), an agent with serious anger management issues, assigned to protect her, Gracie learns the alarming news that her pal, Miss United States (Heather Burns), and master of ceremonies Stan (William Shatner) have been kidnapped in Las Vegas, which provides the impetus for her to sidestep her new role and go back into action to discover the whereabouts of her buddies.

Vegas junior agent Jeff Foreman (Enrique Murciano), designated to keep them out of trouble, eventually becomes their ally, while his supervisor Collins (Treat Williams) jealously attempts to block Gracie's efforts to apprehend the kidnappers and steal his thunder.

This is lightweight stuff, but director John Pasquin succeeds in mixing the laughs and the action effectively.

Bullock and King make appealing sparring partners, and register genuine humanity underneath the slapstick. Bullock's an adept comedienne, and King makes a strong impression, as she did in last year's "Ray."

At one point, the ladies get into drag at a Vegas female impersonator show, and pretend to be guys pretending to be girls; King gets to strut her stuff as Tina Turner. (They're on the trail of a Dolly Parton impersonator who holds the key to the kidnappers' whereabouts.)

The film imparts an admirable message about friendship and remaining true to yourself throughout, and there are even several poignant moments.

The film contains some crass expressions, mild profanity, comedic action violence, gender cross-dressing and sexual innuendo. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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Forbes is director of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Copyright (c) 2005 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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