Posted in Film

The Sandra Bullock Files #34: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005)

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The Sandra Bullock Files is a series that looks at the films of Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock, all the way from her debut in 1987, to her two major 2018 releases, Ocean’s Eight and Bird Box.

Sandra is not known for always making the best movies in the world. For the longest time, every good movie she made seemed to be followed by a bad one. For every The Proposal, there’s an All About Steve, which earned Sandra the Razzie for Worst Actress. For every The Net, there’s Premonition, her ridiculous 2007 thriller that is definitely one of her all-time lows. And for every Speed, there’s, of course, Speed 2: Cruise Control.

But Speed 2 isn’t Sandra’s worst sequel. The worst sequel she has ever made is the one where she’s sporting a Vegas drag costume and impersonating incontinent old ladies. Yes, I’m talking about 2005’s disaster, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous.

To make matters worse, this embarrassing movie came out after a two-and-a-half year absence from the screen for Sandra, when we fans were clamoring for something, anything, from her. After making 2002’s Two Weeks Notice, she took a sabbatical from filmmaking, one that was supposed to be six months but ending up being more than two years. (She spent time producing George Lopez, and remodeling old buildings in Austin, Texas.)

So what was her big come-back movie after this longer-than-desired break? The unquestioningly bad Miss Congeniality 2. Did Sandra learn her lesson with Speed 2? Even Sandra herself has gone on talk shows and talked about how awful the action sequel was. She’s never, however, been very outspoken about her other sequel, which is in much more need of a few heartfelt apologies.

The film begins decently; in fact, the very first scene is the best. Sandra returns as Gracie Hart, who’s prettier and better dressed, but still the same old Gracie. Trouble ensues while she’s trying to stop a bank robbery, when her cover is blown by a fan who wants her autograph. She can’t just stay back in the shadows any longer; her mission at the Miss United States pageant has captured the nation’s imagination. Therefore, her boss (Ernie Hudson) suggests that instead of having her continue to work in the field that she become the face, celebrity, and cheerleader of the FBI.

Soon Gracie’s signing copies of her new book and chatting with Regis Philbin on his talk show. She becomes a shallow version of her former self, just at the moment that last year’s Miss USA winner Cheryl (Heather Burns), along with Stan Fields (William Shatner) get kidnapped. Oh, and then there’s Regina King as Gracie’s sassy sidekick.

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous isn’t awful because of its tired plot, or because it has one unfunny scene after another, or because it includes Sandra’s most unpleasant character in a film ever (Gracie is really self-centered in this sequel); this one’s particularly bad because of its obvious laziness. The 2000 original isn’t anything remarkable, but it’s funny and breezy, and it ranks as one of Sandra’s best comedies. (It also has Michael Caine, who’s sorely lacking this time around.)

This sequel just has nothing going for it. Not only is the main character shallow for a good eighty percent of the running time; there’s not a story here worth telling, not a relationship worth exploring. The whole endeavor is just a big, dumb commercial, a tasteless McDonalds product if you will, hoping to steal hard-earned dollars from the movie-going public. Sandra is better than this.

Thankfully the ensemble drama Crash opened six weeks after Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, and managed to wash away a lot of the bad aftertaste of one of her worst movies ever. For even the most die-hard Sandra fans, Miss Congeniality 2 was not a good time at the movies, but thankfully Crash would show us all a hint of the greatness that was to come.

Best Scene: Benjamin Bratt (off-screen and unheard) breaks up with Sandra over the telephone.

Best Line: “Is it the snorting? Cuz I don’t have to snort.”

Fun Facts

To date, Sandra’s final collaboration with Marc Lawrence.

Sandra won Choice Movie Actress: Comedy at the Teen Choice Awards.

The film grossed $101 million worldwide, less than half of what the first film made.

In Miss Congeniality, there was supposed to be a storyline where Gracie’s mother was killed in the line of duty. The storyline was included in the sequel.

A “Miss Congeniality” poster can be seen in the background at the Las Vegas airport during the scene where Gracie is supposed to be flying back to New York.

To date, Sandra’s second and last sequel.

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