On the Big Board
||I fell asleep twice while watching it. That was a mercy nap, let me tell you.
||Two words: franchise killer.
When we last saw Gracie Hart aka Miss New Jersey Gracie Lou Freebush, the hardass FBI agent was infiltrating a beauty contest crime ring and getting in touch with her long ignored feminine side.
Hart, forced by a superior office to enter a Miss America type beauty pageant, grudgingly obeyed the chain of command. While there, she managed to piece together incriminating evidence against a criminal mastermind, Kathy Morningside, and her fetish obsessed boob of a son.
That wasn't all that happened, though.
Our heroine experienced a personal renaissance as she discovered a previously dormant aspect of her personality. The tomboy came to realize that the superficial feeling of impeccable make-up and the perfect hairstyle allowed Gracie to achieve new heights of self-esteem. Along the way, she also managed to make a new best friend in Miss Rhode Island Cheryl Frasier. She even won the heart of her handler during the investigation, Erik Matthews.
Judging from the above, it was one of the most successful crime stings in FBI history. And Gracie was even named Miss Congeniality to boot.
The question on everyone at the agency's lips is what Gracie will do for an encore.
Since the movie earned $212 million in worldwide receipts, a sequel was an inevitability. The surprise is that it has taken almost four years for the project to get off the ground. Finally, that day has come, and Sandra Bullock will reprise arguably her most successful role as a solo lead.
The most surprising decisions about the sequel are who is back and who wasn't offered a second helping. Benjamin Bratt, who had exceptional chemistry with Bullock, will not return. Instead, Enrique Murciano, the co-star of the popular CBS drama Without a Trace, has been cast to play Gracie's new romantic foil.
In addition to Murciano, the other new cast member will be played by the talented Regina King of Jerry Maguire. Her role is as the replacement partner for Bratt's character. She and Gracie are forced to work together by going to Vegas. Before the two may apprehend the criminals together, the women will have to overcome their initial distrust and dislike of one another. For those who were unlucky enough to see King's recent movie, Legally Blonde 2, this sounds like uncomfortably familiar territory.
Conversely, Heather Burns aka Miss Rhode Island, whose work would ostensibly seem to be done, will return. Even more strangely, William Shatner, the host of the pageant, and Michael Caine, the pageant trainer, will be back. How are these people being given the opportunity to show up again?
The key is that the sequel will take place in Las Vegas. Since Shatner is assumed to be something of a lounge lizard B-level celeb (how fitting), his appearance will be easy to explain. Frasier will be trickier but since she's the best friend, it's not impossible. As for Caine, BOP just assumes that he shows up for the shoot of every production. It's the only way to explain how prolific he is.
All kidding aside, the plot details that have trickled in so far indicate that the Shatner and Burns characters are kidnapped. Regina King's character is assigned the case instead of Gracie, causing her to have to work her way to Vegas, where she begins to do her own investigating.
Recent box office trending has shown that unwelcome sequels have a tendency to go toe up upon release. The good news here is that Miss Congeniality was hailed in a universally positive fashion by critics and audiences alike. The new movie should prove immune to such concerns. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Comparison films for Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
|Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The
|Two Weeks Notice
|Murder By Numbers