If dimples could kill

Sandra Bullock returns as an FBI agent who can’t catch a break

Claire Joseph

Beauty might be more than skin deep, but Hollywood thinking tends to stay near the surface.

“Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous,” picks up almost exactly where its predecessor, “Miss Congeniality,” ended.

It’s been three weeks since FBI Special Agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) took second place at the Miss United States pageant.

Gracie’s boyfriend, agent Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt), breaks up with Gracie over the phone, taking one of the most charming characters in the original “Miss Congeniality” out of the picture in this sequel.

The film never seems to recover from that shot to the heart.

Because of all the hype surrounding Gracie and her win as Miss United States’ number two, she can’t go anywhere without being recognized.

And that means no undercover work.

So, instead, Gracie aims to become “the new face of the FBI,” appearing on talk shows and at book signings with the goal of improving the FBI’s image.

When Miss United States herself, Cheryl Frasier, and the pageant’s emcee, Stan Fields, are kidnapped, Gracie is torn between trying to save her pageant friends or sticking to talk shows, as she’s been assigned to do.

Tough choice.

The problem in the film is simple: There is no real problem to solve.

In fact, it seems Gracie’s biggest dilemma is that she got dumped and she doesn’t like admitting it.

“He got too clingy,” Gracie lies when she’s asked what went wrong.

Yet, the movie makes no attempt at having its audience sympathize with Gracie’s presumed loneliness.

This slow-paced film seeks laughs by resorting to time-worn jokes about making an ugly girl pretty and the secret vanity of female FBI agents.

Enrique Murciano, known for his role as FBI agent Danny Taylor on the hit TV series “Without a Trace,” plays Jeff Foreman, an immature and inefficient agent who can’t seem to get his job right.

Although the jump from TV to film can be hard, Murciano might have hurt both his chances of film stardom and continued TV success through this performance.

Playing the same type of FBI special agent role, his “Miss Congeniality” part was too childish to be taken seriously and might make his smart and competent FBI role on “Without a Trace” seem less believable.

Murciano and Bullock might want to spend some time undercover after this film.