Congeniality 2 wisely treads new ground and aims to be a stand alone movie – although if you've seen the first there's still enough to amuse afresh. In her first outing, blokey Bullock had to get girly in the girliest of worlds. Now, though, the made-over Gracie has to hack it in her daily world – cracking crime and smacking criminals – while being fabulously feminine. And this time she's got the help of her new partner-cum-bodyguard Sam Fuller (Regina King), a female agent with anger-management and dress-sense problems. True to the buddy-movie genre, Gracie and Sam hate each other. Untrue to the formula, though, they aren't mismatched opposites - they're both alike. Only it takes the course of the movie – not to mention fisticuffs, dance numbers, and danger – for them to find out.
Like the first film, though, Congeniality 2 aims squarely to be a comedy, not a romantic comedy, and a comic flick not a chick flick. Which gives Bullock and her Miss Congeniality screenwriter Marc Lawrence (indeed fourth time screenwriter/collaborator – Forces of Nature, Two Weeks' Notice) plenty of scope for laughs. Not all of them work, though, leaving Congeniality 2 flatter than the original, but fun in its own way. You get the sense too that some of quips mean more in America than here. But with Bullock – probably the best and certainly the bravest comedy actress in the world – it can't really fail. Whether taking pratfalls, undercovering as an octogenarian or wearing alarmingly mobile false breasts, Bullock has an amazing unconcern for her own star-status, giving everything for our amusement. With spot-on moments of vulnerability (her on-the-phone break-up is poignant) Bullock also manages to make Gracie a real character rather than a caricature. She's given solid support too from King, with a fun turn from Diedrich Baker as Bullock's camp style-guru.
Our Sandy's also the producer. So, is it a Bullock-best comedy? No. But Miss Congeniality 2 is entertaining and original enough to be worth catching as an agreeable after-work movie. And, sometimes, that's all you want.