You have to worry about a sequel when you find yourself missing not just Michael Caine but Benjamin Bratt. Or when it's set in Las Vegas and the DoP decides to light it like Blackpool on a January afternoon. Or when the filmmakers name one of their characters Sam Fuller just so they can work in a strained visual reference to the opening scene of Naked Kiss (because the target audience is bound to appreciate that).
Let's hope that last gag at least amused director John Pasquin (Jungle 2 Jungle) because Miss Congeniality 2 needs all the laughs it can get. After all, not many movies could ask Sandra Bullock to play a woman playing a man playing a woman in a Vegas drag club... And kill it stone dead, not a smirk in the house.
It all looked so good on paper, too. The original was - - whisper it - - bloody good fun, with Bullock radiating sunny star quality among a deluge of one-liners and sight gags - and it starred Benjamin Bratt. Armed And Fabulous takes a decent concept (Gracie is now a harpy), adds a droll sidekick (Regina King's super-angry bodyguard Sam Fuller) and plumps the whole thing in Vegas, the only setting on Earth that's more tacky, more shallow and more open to ridicule than the original's Miss World tournament. It should have been a riotous female buddy movie. It instead promotes world peace - - of the pin-drop silence variety - - by being jaw-clenchingly unfunny.
As with Bridget Jones 2, the only decent gags are repeated gags: William Shatner goofing it up as Miss World's sweet-natured MC; Bullock snorting laughter and hoovering doughnuts whenshe's not dressed to the nines in a sherbet colour scheme; and a neat reversal of the original's bombshell transformation scene, our heroine this time struttin' her slo-mo stuff towards camera as a suited'n'booted FBI agent. But that's it. Miss Congeniality 3? Only if they bring back Benjamin Bratt.
A deeply disappointing sequel that grinds through the motions with a rictus grin. Even Sandra Bullock looks exhausted.