|Site locale: United States||
Best Blu-ray Deals
Best Blu-ray Deals, See All the Deals »
Top deals |
Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous(2000-2005)
After botching up an undercover assignment involving Russian mobsters, less-than- graceful FBI Agent Gracie Hart is placed on desk duty. However, when a terrorist, known only as The Citizen, threatens to disrupt the Miss America pageant, Gracie, unfortunately, is the only agent attractive enough to go undercover posing as Miss New Jersey.
Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous:
FBI Agent Gracie Hart became an overnight media sensation after she successfully disarmed a threat against the Miss United States Pageant while working undercover as a contestant. But things haven't been going so well for her lately. Reeling from a broken romance and frustrated to find her newfound fame is jeopardizing the undercover work she loves, Gracie reluctantly let her boss, Agent McDonald, talk her into serving the Bureau in the only way now possible: coifed and styled for the talk show circuit as "the face of the FBI." Capitalizing on the greatest PR coup in agency history, the FBI presses their new poster girl into a while of photos ops where she re-enacts her pageant exploits to an adoring public, with the help of her personal stylist Joel to smooth her rougher edges.
For more about Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous and the Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Blu-ray release, see the Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 13, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Sandra Bullock, William Shatner, Ernie Hudson, Regina King, Michael Caine, Benjamin Bratt
Director: John Pasquin
This Blu-ray release includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Blu-ray Review
A fan-favorite comedy and its not-so-fabulous sequel, all in one convenient package...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 13, 2010
Still celebrating Sandra Bullock's win at the Academy Awards? Waiting with baited breath for the highly anticipated Blu-ray release of The Blind Side? Furious that shortsighted Razzie voters didn't see what you saw in All About Steve? Still smirking at Bullock's clever, self-effacing acceptance speeches at both awards ceremonies? Then Warner's second Comedy Double Feature is for you. Me? Director Donald Petrie's Miss Congeniality certainly does have its moments -- thanks in large part to talented supporting actors like Candice Bergen, Michael Caine, and the original JTK, William Shatner (who manages to make everything he touches exponentially funnier) -- and I'll be the first to admit I laughed on more than one occasion (even though the film as a whole failed to satiate my finicky genre appetite). However, director John Pasquin's maligned, misguided, altogether unnecessary sequel, the dutifully titled Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous, stumbles, trips, and tumbles down so many pageant stairs that it nearly takes the entire Double Feature down with it.
Tomboy-turned-rough-n-tumble-FBI-agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) is about to tackle one of the most challenging cases of her career: rooting out a terrorist plotting to plant a bomb at an upcoming Miss America pageant. Subjecting herself to a whirlwind makeover -- because it's sooo hard to buy Bullock as a potential beauty queen when her hair's pulled back -- Hart steps into the high heels of Miss New Jersey after the current sash-holder is disgraced and booted from the competition. But the Bureau isn't satisfied. Hiring a pompous consultant named Victor Melling (Michael Caine), they decide to equip the reluctant wolf in sheep's gowns with all the skills she'll need to convince the pageant's dim-witted contestants and snarky officials she deserves to survive each grueling round. After all, aside from Victor, her partner Eric (Benjamin Bratt), and the dozen FBI agents monitoring Hart's surveillance feed and fixing the judge's results, the only people who are aware of her ruse are the competition's icy director, Kathy Morningside (Candice Bergen), and lovable stage host, Stan Fields (Williams Shatner). Pushing to become everything she despises, all in an effort to impress her agency handlers, Hart digs deeper and tries to draw out the deadly terrorist... all while learning something about herself, of course.
The problem with Miss Congeniality and other formulaic comedies of its ilk is that it spends far too much time reminding its audience that its heroine, regardless of her upbringing or devotion to her career, is so diametrically opposed to everything she has to endure. Petrie so celebrates her feminine ineptitude that the resulting experience becomes a trite and tiresome ordeal rather than an enjoyable one. Hart doesn't simply struggle with her undercover assignment, she flounders in every aspect of it. She isn't just a misfit, she's incapable of fitting in. She doesn't merely need a makeover or some specialized training, she needs a complete and thorough overhaul; one that oh-so-conveniently allows her to undergo enough tough introspection to change her from the inside out. Bullock handles the mediocrity in stride, mind you, but her character's every encounter becomes so predictable, so pantomimed, that it's actually difficult to watch her bumble her way across a pageant stage. Bratt and his FBI cohorts make matters even worse, pining over their token female agent as if her boy's club status is in danger of being revoked. As is the case with most second and third tier comedies, the characters' sole purpose is to provide comic relief in situations where the presence of a contrasting force would be much funnier. If Miss Congeniality focused on an upstart female agent caught between a stodgy government agency and a frills-and-pills pageant world, Petrie and his trio of screenwriters might have won me over. Instead, they aim for easy gags and even easier punchlines; they wallow in the expected, and rarely deliver on their otherwise promising premise.
Enter Murphy Brown and the Shat, the same sharp-witted comic duo that made the prematurely-canceled Boston Legal one of the funniest series on television. Unlike Bullock -- who's tasked with infusing enormous emotional weight into Hart's gumdrop plight -- Bergen and Shatner seem to know exactly what kind of film they're in. They flaunt, preen, smirk, quip, gasp, and leer on cue, yet so wholeheartedly embrace every ludicrous line and stereotype they're afforded that they steal entire scenes from Bullock. Rosy-cheeked kids in a candy store, they launch into the spotlight with the giddy glee of comedians who understand their role and their craft; who know when to dabble in extremes, when to exaggerate an expression and, most importantly, when to slink back and let the (supposed) hilarity of a scene speak for itself. Caine follows their lead step for step, shedding his proper-Brit schtick to have fun, legitimate fun, in a part he wouldn't normally accept. Sure, he's burdened with copious exposition and granted the unfortunate role of stand-in father-figure, but it actually works. In fact, every time Bullock shares the screen with Caine, Shatner, or Bergen, the film actually works, even if only for a moment. It's when she returns to Bratt's side, deals with the other contestants, races to uncover the particulars of the terrorist's plot, and tries to resolve her mommy issues that Miss Congeniality spins off its axis and comes undone. Still, comedy is in the eye of the beholder, and Petrie's film has a respectable fanbase. I'm just not a part of it.
Alas, even though Shatner makes a semi-triumphant return, I couldn't find anything to enjoy in Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous, a stilted sequel cursed with a shoddy script, a clumsy cast of irritating characters, and an aimless plot devoid of both heart and humor. After the events of the first film expose Hart and make her a fairly well-known celebrity, the FBI decide to transform her into the poster-girl of the agency. But despite her frequent television appearances and popular promotional tours, Hart has little choice but to go undercover once again when her old pageant friends, Stan Fields and Cheryl Frasier (Heather Burns) are kidnapped. Before you can cry derivative, a new angsty female agent named Sam Fuller (Regina King) is assigned to shadow Hart, a pair of additional agents (Enrique Murciano and Diedrich Bader) tag along to fill out her entourage, and the newly formed feisty-foursome have to elude the FBI's controlling assistant director, Walter Collins (Treat Williams), a career-tracked buffoon who doesn't believe Gracie has what it takes to be anything more than a media relations lackey. Defying direct orders, Hart poses as an old woman at a retirement home, a Las Vegas dancer, and a number of equally ridiculous alter egos in an effort to save Stan and Cheryl before Collins' brash methods get them killed.
Pasquin and returning screenwriter Marc Lawrence's most daunting challenge is crystal clear from the outset: finding a way to refine the Miss Congeniality formula without simply repeating everything Petrie already did the first time around. But as commendable a goal as that may be, especially when so many comedy sequels simply rehash everything that's come before, the seemingly desperate Armed & Fabulous filmmakers drift too far from the beaten path. So much effort is invested in justifying the existence of a second story, of transforming Hart into a more resonant everywoman, that the resulting one-liners and situational comedy becomes cumbersome and unwieldy. Worse still, their continual attempts to push Hart into the 21st century, all while introducing a carbon-copy female agent that shares her former hang-ups, fall flat and quite often go nowhere. Instead of proving her worth or her inner mettle, they inadvertently present her as a stubborn, insubordinate troublemaker; an annoying go-getter genre junkies have followed to hell and back a thousand times before. Meanwhile, her FBI colleagues are either infuriating pushovers who give her free reign over their lives or temperamental dolts who overlook the obvious. When she holds a gun to one poor agent's head? No big deal. When she asks them to risk their careers on a series of hunches? We don't like it, pretty lady, but we'll bite. Comedy can defy logic so long as it follows its own internal rules, but Armed & Fabulous bends and contorts to each scene, ignoring the inconsistencies and inanities brewing in its midst.
By the time it reaches its hurried, unceremoniously anticlimactic conclusion, characters have had epiphanies for no real reason, personality changes have been made without explanation, plot threads are left dangling, and Hart emerges, raging defiance and all, as a self-empowered victor in a bizarre little game of thematic expansion. And you know it's bad when Miss Congeniality diehards shrug their shoulders and say things like, "the sequel isn't terrible... it's just different." Sometimes less is more. Not every successful film needs a followup, not every flash of comic energy is strong enough to strike twice. Bullock is a smart actress capable of great performances, but her taste in scripts is questionable at best. For every Crash, she delivers a Two Weeks Notice. For every Proposal comes a Two If by Sea. Sadly, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous is more Speed 2: Cruise Control than While You Were Sleeping, and it shows in every faltering frame, lame joke, and mismanaged master-of-disguise sequence Pasquin and Lawrence have to offer.
Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Blu-ray, Video Quality
Warner's Bullock-helmed Comedy Double Feature fares a bit better than the studio's concurrently released Analyze This/That twofer, but only by a slim margin. Once again, both films suffer from several lingering issues, and once again, the original flick doesn't look as good as its sequel.
Miss Congeniality, now ten-years old, features a decent 1080p/VC-1 transfer that limps rather noticeably before hitting any kind of stride. Laszlo Kovacs' petunia-pelted palette displays the most remarkable improvements -- cupcake pinks and tea-party yellows are as gaudy as they should be, primaries are bright and bold, and black levels are nice and deep (albeit due to some overzealous contrast boosting rather than a meticulous overhaul) -- but it isn't perfect. Skintones range from lifelike to oversaturated (wallowing in garish orange hues at times), blues skew violet, and greens are a tad sickly and, for lack of a better term, unnatural. Detail rises and falls as well. Softness haunts many a scene (look no further than the opening playground sequence for one of the most obvious examples), DNR diminishes the film's finest textures, and edge enhancement has been applied throughout. That's not to say the picture is a complete wash -- several able-bodied scenes handily trump their DVD counterparts, particularly the pageant sequences -- but the image isn't as refined as it could have been given a proper remaster. It doesn't help that faint artifacting, crush, and ringing pop up throughout, calling the technical quality of everything into question. Thankfully, these intermittent blips never become too debilitating or distracting. Still, while no one will mistake the Blu-ray edition of Miss Congeniality for a DVD, it hasn't been primed to take advantage of the format. I love affordable releases as much as the next guy, but not when a studio simply tweaks a dated presentation, tosses it on a shiny new disc, and shoves it out the door on a shoestring budget.
Thankfully, Armed & Fabulous has earned a more proficient 1080p/VC-1 transfer. Unlike Miss Congeniality's at-times questionable presentation, I didn't spot any errant artifacts or glaring anomalies, and didn't encounter the instability that hindered the first film. Once again, colors are vibrant, blacks are well-resolved, and contrast is strong. More importantly, skintones are much more natural, primaries are purer, and detail is more consistent. While edge enhancement still sullies a handful of shots, fine textures are crisper (despite the intermittent yet judicious use of noise reduction), overall clarity is more reliable, and delineation is more revealing. If I have any complaint, it's that the picture boasts an over-processed, over-polished sheen that calls its faithfulness into question. Look closely when Bullock goes undercover as an old woman, when she dons a pink feather and drums up her best showgirl impression, when her entourage squabble in the searing Nevada sun. The image takes on an artificial, almost plasticized appearance that suggests some unneeded tinkering. These shortcomings never spoil the entire experience -- it's far more attractive than its standard DVD cousin -- but they're a nuisance nonetheless, especially considering Armed & Fabulous is only five-years old. Ah well, fans should be fairly pleased with the results.
Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner's Miss Congeniality Double Feature boasts a pair of competent and capable DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks, both of which are hindered only by some rather pedestrian sound design. As is the case with most dialogue-heavy comedies, both films' soundscapes are anchored to the screen, while the rear speakers are merely given secondary tasks that often fail to immerse the listener in Hart's world as readily as they could. Don't misunderstand, each film's soundtrack effectively snakes its way across the soundfield, as do several scenes blessed with convincing crowd chatter and comical action, but both mixes are largely front-heavy affairs from beginning to end. Luckily, dialogue is clean and intelligible throughout, slapstick effects benefit from crisp tones and seamless pans, and LFE output lends its strength to a variety of booming microphones, barked orders, blindsided bystanders, and clamoring auditoriums. Dynamics are limited -- presumably because of the films' original sound design -- but adequate, and ambience is occasionally underwhelming but ultimately appreciated. All things considered, Miss Congeniality and its Armed & Fabulous sequel sound pretty good... they're just not going to turn any heads or put any audiophile's jaw on the floor.
Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The 2009 Deluxe Edition DVD release of Miss Congeniality and Miss Congeniality 2, itself a Double Feature release, offered a generous supplemental package that included two commentaries, a pair of documentaries, and a number of additional features. But for whatever reason, the Blu-ray Double Feature doesn't have anything, not even a theatrical trailer. Don't blame it on Warner's BD-50 disc though. With a 25GB layer devoted to each film, there should have been more than enough room to include all the special features. Other BD-25 releases have boasted solid video and audio, and a suite of supplemental materials (although said bonus content is usually encoded in standard definition). Blame the disc's bargain pricing and lackluster production.
Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I love the idea of a reasonably priced Double Feature release but, so far, Warner has failed to execute the concept properly. Never mind the quality of the Miss Congeniality films -- love em or hate em, you already know whether or not they're your kind of comedies -- the Double Feature disc just isn't up to snuff. Its video transfers offer second generation Blu-ray presentations at best, its DTS-HD Master Audio tracks are solid but forgettable, and the commentaries and supplemental content featured on its DVD counterparts are nowhere to be found. The notion of paying $15 for two high definition releases is great in theory, but in practice (again, thus far) it lacks substantial value.
Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - February 23rd - February 23, 2010
The name Steven Soderbergh immediately provokes images of intense, thought-provoking dramas akin to his previous efforts (which include Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and Che). Say the name Matt Damon, and the mind is drawn to the image of an intense actor who starred ...
• Warner Launches Blu-ray Double Features - December 17, 2009
Beginning February 23, Warner Home Video is launching a line of Blu-ray double features consisting of "a pair of well-matched catalog hits spanning multiple genres" and aggressively priced at $24.98 (SRP). The first wave will include: 'Dirty Harry/Magnum Force'; ...
Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
» Show more forum discussions for Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Blu-ray
Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Blu-ray Screenshots
Back to Miss Congeniality / Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Blu-ray »
Trending Blu-ray Movies
Trending in Theaters
This web site is not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association.
All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners.
© 2002-2013 Blu-ray.com. All rights reserved.