ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  john pasquin

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  107 minutes

RELEASED  -  24 march 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  warner bros.

OFFICIAL SITE  -  armed and fabulous

miss congeniality 2: armed and fabulous - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from miss congeniality 2: armed and fabulous at

buy the dvd from miss congeniality 2: armed and fabulous at

after cheryl frasier and stan fields are kidnapped, gracie goes undercover in las vegas to find them.

on may 11, 2004, while filming a scene outside treasure island on the las vegas strip, a severe sandstorm forced production to shut down for the night.


picture from miss congeniality 2: armed and fabulous

picture from miss congeniality 2: armed and fabulous

picture from miss congeniality 2: armed and fabulous

picture from miss congeniality 2: armed and fabulous

picture from miss congeniality 2: armed and fabulous


two out of four possible stars

It's difficult to dislike a movie star with as much effervescent personality as Sandra Bullock possesses, so her questionable decision to appear in a second Miss Congeniality movie probably won't lose her any fans. Though it probably won't add any either. Although the film is quite packed with the frenetic energy and quick pacing required in a sequel, the film and its characters are missing some of the effortless charm that the cast of the first film so easily displayed.

Armed and Fabulous presents a different view of Sandra Bullock's klutzy FBI character, "Gracie Hart," and sometimes it's a difficult pill to swallow when her character makes a turn for to the unsympathetic region of viewer's hearts. Despite her unladylike qualities and brash manner, the character was nevertheless appealing throughout the entire run of the first film. The filmmakers of the sequel have taken some of that charm away and although it is admirable that they would seek to push their character into new emotional territory, for this bubbly genre, it was a miscalculation.

It is a risk to take a well-liked character and force them to display less than generous inclinations, but it's not necessarily a bad move. But in Gracie Hart's case, so much of the character's charm stemmed from an innocence and lack of pretension that in taking away this admirable quality, the filmmakers have deleted a large reason to watch the character. And the new self-involved and slightly pretentious Gracie Hart is an act that becomes stale far too quickly in the first act and into the second.

Although Bullock's co-star and adversary Regina King offers a spirited and argumentative sparring partner as "Sam Fuller," the fact remains that Gracie Hart has just about as much animosity floating around as does Regina and the two are actually too alike in some respects to create a proper good cop/bad cop duo. Or even if one were to consider the two part of a buddy duo, their personalities aren't really that different. Starsky and Hutch, Riggs and Murtaugh, Laverne and Shirley, all those pairings featured a couple of "buddies" who were as different as night and day.

Sam Fuller and Gracie Hart are both angry women prone to pulling punches and getting in fist-fights when they don't get their way. And although the filmmakers attempted to create a difference between them by giving Gracie an element of vanity to her character, the two women are too alike in most instances to create real spark and conflict for the audience. Both King and Bullock have moments where they are able to pull off a few comedic punches, but overall their pairing is a staid one and, like Gracie's personality make-over, becomes a tired relationship for the audience to watch.

Supporting characters returning for this second film include William Shatner and Heather Burns (they play pageant director "Stan Fields" and pageant winner "Cheryl," respectively) and no major changes to their characters have been made for this film. They both sport the same loopy and appealing personalities as they did in the first film and their appearances are a welcome and entertaining addition to the film, having been perfectly cast in their roles. Ernie Hudson also reprises his role as lead FBI agent "McDonald" and as is to be expected of Hudson, he handles the small role with ease.

New actors in the series include performances from Treat Williams (playing an FBI head-honcho in Las Vegas), Elisabeth Röhm and Enrique Murciano (both playing FBI agents), and Eileen Brennan (playing Stan Fields' mother). Of the new additions, Brennan adds the most spark to the film as William Shatner's mother, despite the fact that in reality Brennan is seven years younger than Shatner. Enrique Murciano is surprisingly effective in his role as a sometimes bumbling young FBI agent while Röhm and Williams handle their roles with just a tad less enthusiasm.

Although the comedy usually hits the mark, the difficult character relationships and their tendency to grow stale over the course of the film make this comedy seem somewhat longer than was probably intended. This failing in character (and to a lesser degree, story) highlights the real need for close attention paid to the basic building blocks of a film. Armed and Fabulous is a good example of a film whose most ardent appeal to its audience is through a constant stream of slap-stick jokes and swiftly paced humor, but that makes life difficult for its viewers by neglecting an innovative story.

Though in point of fact, had the filmmakers simply copied everything about the first film and put it in the second, that might have been an easier film to watch since the first one obviously struck such a chord with audience, grossing over a hundred million at the box office domestically. Rather than blame the filmmakers for some bad story (there is a lack of a suitably coherent one) and character flaws, perhaps they should simply receive a slap on the wrist for taking a proven formula and messing with it to the characters' detriment. This is not a movie that will make you howl, but for fans of Bullock and the genre, it might just perform up to mild expectations.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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