Sequels in the eyes of the critics are either a hit or miss. Unless it’s really bad, I usually wind up appreciating any follow-up – especially if it re-visits the same characters and manages to write a good script, preferably one that succeeds in pulling off a “fresh” idea.
Only a few months has passed since Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) competed in the Miss United States pageant and foiled a murder plot. Now, she’s happily dating and is in her element back at work in her usual capacity. Unfortunately, for Gracie, both are about to unravel. On the same day that an undercover bank job is nearly upset when a costumer recognizes Gracie, Eric dumps her and asks to be transferred to another office. The former leads her boss to re-assign Gracie – as the new face of the FBI. Instead of field work, Gracie will now be working the media circuit, hoping to rally new recruits and give the agency a better name. Things get sticky when along with another of the pageant officials, Stan Fields (William Shatner), Gracie’s friend and the reigning winner, Cheryl (Heather Burns) is kidnapped. Now, along with her beauty consultant, Joel, she’s sent to Las Vegas to handle the press and ordered along is the bitter and tough Sam Fuller (Regina King). The two women clash but if this is the only way Gracie can help Cheryl, she’s willing to put up with her bad-tempered tag-along.
Seeing this didn’t happen until long after it’d been moved to the “catalog title” shelves but for a girl who found the first movie entertaining, it was well worth the wait. Sparkling with equal parts sassy personalities and enough mystery to inspire an exciting climax, there isn’t a whole lot to complain about. If the viewer wants to be critical, there are a few petty things that crop up (the biggest offender being a sequence involving a bar and cross-dressing) yet the film retains some terrific humor and the cast to back it up.
In all the basic elements, nearly everything stacks up to be the same idea as the previous film. There’s an awkward Gracie and a flawlessly made-up Gracie. Adding more similarity is putting Cheryl in danger although there are situations that inspire conflict where there wasn’t before. Helping to shake things up is a location change, new characters (hilariously fun ones at that) and a reasonably decent story. Right up front, it’s only fair to warn anyone away if you didn’t much care for the first movie, then this one will hold little interest to a potential viewer. All of the same components are alike yet the story feels like a “fresh” idea because of the cast and surprise turn of events that spice things up. Immoral or not, the scene that is most humorous involves Sandra dressing up in a Vegas showgirl costume (one that gets plenty of laughs) pretending to pass for a guy – or the sequence when she transforms into an elderly nursing home patient. Her range – and the effortlessness each time she does it, of playing a variety of new characteristics is a rare talent and if there is one actress who seems comfortable in doing this, it’s Sandra Bullock.
Those of you who are able to “overlook” some missteps to enjoy something that makes us smile – almost by default, will find this the perfect blend of the contemporary woman and satisfies anyone who enjoys a bit of a mystery; finding something more suited to a night of fun for a girly get-together may be difficult. If possible this one is a bit more kick-butt (without cluttering up the “goodness” of the story with a women-don’t-need-men scenario), girl-power movie than its predecessor lacking a leading man yet writer’s still weave some cute romantics into the script (mainly at the expense of the gullible but well-meaning Jeff). There’s a cute “twist” in the ending about learning to be true to ourselves amidst the many school pressures swirling around. Anyone who enjoyed Sandra’s first stint as the tough girl Gracie Hart will appreciate the sequel. It’s certainly capable of standing on its own but retains the charm and humor of its predecessor.
(What to know: A five-minute scene takes place in a club in which cross-dressers compete as former female celebrities [some innuendo is present]. One character is homosexual [remarks are made about getting other men’s numbers]. Gracie asks her boyfriend [on the phone] if he’s leaving her because of their sex life. A gag is played involving Gracie pretending to need a tampon. There are jokes made about the anatomy and some crude language in addition to commonplace profanity. Violence is more for laughs than “threatening.” The film is rated PG13.)