Making the Grades
Sandra Bullock dusts off her satin sash, and reprises her role as Gracie Hart, the FBI agent who went undercover as a beauty pageant contestant. Miss Congeniality II: Armed and Fabulous picks up three weeks after the crowning ceremony, as the awkward operative returns to her day job. But her first mission back is blown when a well-intentioned bystander recognizes her much-publicized mug during a stakeout. Realizing the notoriety she received from the last case has made it impossible for her to continue doing the work she loves, Gracie fears her days with the bureau may be over.
However, her boss does have another assignment in mind for her. Capitalizing on her popularity, he suggests she becomes the FBI's "poster" agent. With really no other options, Gracie agrees to trade her gumshoes for high heels, and do the talk show circuit -- even accepting the advice of the image consultant that goes with the gig. In ten short months, Joel (Diedrich Badger) has her so smooth and polished, even Gracie believes in his creation.
The public relations puppet is content to be on tour until news comes that her former pals Miss America (Heather Burns) and Stan Fields (William Shatner) have been kidnapped. Anxious to rescue her friends, Gracie volunteers to take the case -- only to be brushed off as merely a pretty face. Snubbing orders from above, the now self-important celebrity decides to do her own investigation. To help, she conscripts her bodyguard Sam Fuller (Regina King) and her Los Vegas liaison Jeff Foreman (Enrique Murciano).
These plot circumstances allow the screenplay to run from one silly scenario to another, such as needing to dress up as an elderly lady to interrogate residents of a nursing home or impersonating Tina Turner at a cross-gender nightclub. Costumes for these infiltration adventures involve men in drag, scanty dancing girl getups and saggy false breasts--the later used as props to generate humor.
Although the script includes only mild profanities, it is riddled with sexual dialogue and innuendo, especially from an over-the-top homosexual character. Other topics thrown in for laughs include femine supplies, medical procedures, gambling addictions, drinking when depressed, revenge tactics, slang words for prostitution and body parts, as well as a few derogatory racial remarks.
Also, the heavy hand of the law is ever present in depictions of physical contact (body slams, punches, choking, arm bending, and self-defense moves) and gunplay (held to heads, shootouts and a training simulator that looks like a first-person-shooter video game). Although it seldom becomes gory, the violence feels a little less sanitary in scenes where a loan shark bloodies a man's forehead, two hit men hang their boss over the Hoover Dam, and some characters are threatened with drowning.
In contrast, the movie attempts to pull at viewers heart strings with sentimental portrayals of rejection, low self-esteem, the power of friendship, and the necessity of looking beyond outward appearances in order to understand the person within. Featuring less than stellar performances, this film is an odd sweet and sour mix that families may not find too congenial.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Miss Congeniality 2 Armed and Fabulous.
Gracie refers to her new self as “FBI Barbie” and makes a big deal out of being called skinny. Joel the stylist hopes aloud that the girl he has to makeover won’t be “a fatty.” What messages about body image do you gain from these remarks? How do you feel about the council “People care about people who care about themselves?”
What kind of attitude do Gracie and Sam have towards men? Why? How do the type of male characters they are surrounded by in this movie confirm those feelings? Have you noticed this kind of negative portrayal in other films?