Another woebegone sequel, with feathers

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Another woebegone sequel, with feathers

Somewhere in the middle of “Miss Congeniality 2,” country singer Dolly Parton is tackled to the ground. Talk show host Regis Philbin gets socked in the groin. An FBI agent keeps beating people up in public. On each of these occasions, you can tell you’re meant to laugh, which makes it more uncomfortable to watch. And this thing is almost two hours long.
It’s a sequel to “Miss Congeniality” (released in Korea as “Miss Agent”), in which Sandra Bullock apparently played an FBI agent who for some reason had to go undercover as a contestant in a nationally televised beauty pageant. I didn’t happen to see that movie, so it’s possible that there were subtleties in “Miss Congeniality 2” that went right past me, in the way that someone who’d just wandered into “The Godfather Part II” might wonder why Al Pacino keeps talking about his father.
Take Treat Williams, as the smarmy, egotistical head of the Las Vegas FBI office, who regards Bullock’s character as a loose cannon who’s screwing up his investigation. When Bullock shoves him into a pond at the end of the movie, maybe it’s not just the thousandth time that a stuffed-shirt boss or college administrator in a low-rent comedy has gotten pushed into a body of water. Maybe it’s some kind of clever, postmodern reference that you have to have seen “Miss Congeniality” to understand. I guess I can’t say for sure. That’s what happens when you squander your time doing things other than watching Sandra Bullock movies.
Bullock’s character, an FBI agent named Gracie, has become a celebrity because of her beauty pageant experience, which makes her ineffective as a field agent. So her boss asks her to become a sort of public-affairs representative for the FBI, appearing on things like the Regis Philbin talk show.
Assigned to be her bodyguard is Regina King as an apparently psychotic FBI agent with the tomboy name Sam, the agent mentioned above who keeps beating people up for no reason. That happens about every 15 minutes. Gracie and Sam can’t stand each other, but by the end of the movie, will they have become the best of friends? Yes. Gracie is also given a gay-man sidekick (Diedrich Bader), since every girl needs one.
Two of Gracie’s friends from the first movie ― the winner of the beauty pageant (Heather Burns) and the pageant’s master of ceremonies (the dependably surreal William Shatner) ― are kidnapped in Las Vegas, and Gracie is sent there to handle the media. FBI boss Treat Williams, as mentioned earlier, makes it clear to Gracie that she is to stay out of his way. But will Gracie be the only one who can solve the crime? Will Williams refuse to listen, forcing her to take matters into her own hands? Will circumstances force her to pose as a drag show contestant, in feathers? Yes.
The movie’s real problem isn’t any of these wacky plot points; it’s the execution. If you’ve ever been to an open-mike night at a comedy club, you know what it’s like to watch someone try and try to be funny until you have to look away, as the seconds pass like minutes. “Miss Congeniality 2” is about 7,200 of those seconds.

Miss Congeniality 2
Comedy / English
115 min.
Now playing

by David Moll
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