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TIDBIT - Bette Midler was the original choice for the lead in "Sister
That may have been cute (a Jewish nun?) but in choosing Whoopi, "Sister Act" gives itself a shot in the arm with an incomparable comic talent and insures every scene with Deloris/Mary Clarence is a highlight unto itself.
After witnessing a Mob hit courtesy of her boyfriend (Keitel), casino lounge singer Whoopi hightails it to her local police where a helpful cop (Nunn) puts her in the Witness Protection Program and before you can say "holy, holy, holy", sends her to the last place in the world anyone would think of finding a second-rate lounge singer.
Once the church, nuns and choir music with a Motown beat are all introduced, things pick up steadily. All the nuns are funny (especially Najimy as the eternally sunny Sister Mary Patrick) and there are so many good scenes to be had thereafter (the bar scene, the first choir practice, the blossoming of Sister Mary Robert (Makkenna), etc.), that you can't help but smile, even if you're tired of nuns as a springboard for comedy.
And there's something about the music: the gospel-tinged soul songs like "My God", "I Will Follow Him" and such lift your spirits and are infectious in their own right. The last scene in the movie is quite moving, truth be told, and lets you in on a secret... God moves in mysterious ways.
Nine stars. These "Sister"s rock!
I first saw this movie when it came to video, which I think was in 1993 and I loved it, though I didn't see it again until a few months ago when it was on TBS. After seeing it on TBS, I went to the video store and rented it. I rented it because I am a big Whoopi Goldberg fan and the plot seems more interesting every time I see it. The cast is fantastic and there are great performances by Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy, Harvey Keitel, and Bill Nunn. The movie isn't just full of laughs, but great songs as well. Though this is an excellent movie, the sequel SISTER ACT 2: BACK IN THE HABIT is not nearly as good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Whoopi Goldberg is one of my favourite comediennes, and always strikes
me as the female equivalent of Eddie Murphy. She can really make a part
her own, from a charlatan psychic in Ghost, to her role in Sister Act.
Whoopi plays Delores Van Cartier, a lounge singer from Las Vegas. A very unsuccessful one too, something that she knows all too well. Her Mobster boyfriend Vince LaRocca (Harvey Keitel) kills one of his cronies, and Delores has the bad luck of being a witness. Forced to go on the run, the police put her in the last place Vince would ever think to look for her before she can testify against him. A convent!
Now assuming the identity of a nun (Sister Mary Clarence), the only one who knows Delores' true identity is the Mother Superior (Maggie Smith in a terrific role). Needless to say, they don't hit it off. Delores is miserable, and the Mother Superior considers her brash presence a disruption to the convent.
However, Delores manages to have quite an impact on the rest of the convent, especially the choir. She makes friends with the terminally cheerful Sister Mary Patrick (Kathy Najimy) and the mousy Sister Mary Robert (Wendy Makkena).
Delores manages to turn the choir from a tone deaf group into a bunch of swinging sisters! Opening the doors of the church to the public, the convent becomes a big hit, much to the disapproval of the Mother Superior, who prefers the traditional ways. The new-found popularity of the convent also exposes Delores to Vince, putting her in danger.
At first glance, Sister Act seems a little clichéd. There are a lot of stereotyped characters. Delores as the unconventional newcomer who shakes up the establishment, the Mother Superior who is adverse to change, Sister Mary Robert as the shy nun who finds confidence when she discovers she has a wonderful singing voice and so on.
Because it has a great cast, the film rises above most clichés. Whoopi is great to watch when teaching the nuns to sing My God instead of My Guy. Her verbal sparring with Maggie Smith is good too. Maggie Smith manages to inject a great deal of much needed depth into her thinly written character. Her concerns about the sisters' naiveté in the outside world are not altogether wrong.
Kathy Najimy is wonderfully funny as the nun with a sunny disposition. She gets a lot of memorable lines, especially my personal favourite one:
"I guess I've always been upbeat, optimistic, perky. My mother used to say that girl is pure sunshine. She'll either grow up to be a nun, or a stewardess. Coffee?"
Wendy Makkena is great as Sister Mary Robert. She's actually a surprisingly sexy screen presence. So sweet and innocent, but as her confidence builds an edge creeps into her character and she becomes almost irresistible. Her happiness is very infectious. She makes a good trio with Whoopi and Kathy Najimy, and she's always a joy to watch in the choir. Although it's not her belting out those numbers, I still get a feeling of well-being whenever I watch those scenes.
Mary Wickes also puts in a good appearance as the stern Sister Mary Lazarus. She gets a lot of great one liners, and her timing is spot on. She manages to establish a fine rapport with any of the other characters without robbing them of their screen time. Overall, Sister Act has a fine ensemble cast.
Harvey Keitel is adequate, but his part feels inconsequential when compared to the others. He takes centre stage towards the end, and that damages the finale of the film a little. It becomes more daft towards the climax with the convent scouring Las Vegas for Delores, but fortunately recovers when they give a concert for the Pope.
The best parts of the film are the nun's musical numbers, because it doesn't feel in any way blasphemous. It makes you want to rejoice along with the rest of the choir, and their enthusiasm feels very infectious. Overall, I found Sister Act to be a lot of fun and makes you feel good in the process.
Pity Sister Act 2 didn't make you feel the same way.
Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith, Harvey Keitel The nineties
were an interesting time for movies to be made. This is hardly a
spectacular film, but it is certainly amusing, and there are far worse
things you can waste your time on. Like cable.
The plot of the movie is fairly basic. Delores VanCartier (Goldberg) is a lounge singer with a married lover who happens to be a drug dealer and other crime related stuff. Delores decides that she's going to leave Vince (Keitel), but when she goes to give him back the jacket he gave her and say goodbye, she happens to walk in right as Vince is getting his goons to shoot his less than loyal limo driver. Oddly enough, Delores runs like the dickens, basically straight to the police station.
Apparently it will take about two months for a trial date, so until that time, one of the officers hides Delores in a place that Vince would never look for her. A convent. Delores, an off colour black woman with a racy past, ends up pretending to be a nun. The Reverend Mother of the convent (Smith) is slightly less than thrilled at the prospect of having Delores stay with them, but the police do make a substantial donation to compensate them for their kindness.
After a long period of not fitting in anywhere in the convent, the Reverend Mother finally decides to put Delores in the choir. Delores brings her musical talent to the table, and the once atrocious choir at the convent starts to get a little bit better. Then a lot better. Eventually they are ready to sing in mass, and when they do sing, the rest of the nuns just look back and forth at each other as if they can't believe their ears. You can almost hear the thoughts streaming through their minds: "THIS can NOT be the same choir!" But rather than just sing traditional hymns, Delores jazzes things up a little bit and puts some twists into a few old favorites. This doesn't exactly thrill the Reverend Mother, but since it does bring people from the streets into the mass services, she can hardly object.
The convent gains popularity, the crowds start pouring in, and the once backwards convent starts to right itself, thanks to Delores. However, since there is a leak in the police station, Vince eventually finds out where Delores is hiding and goes to find her.
The rest of the movie plays out in a fairly standard manner, but it still highly amusing. Like I said before, not an Academy Award winning flick, but a good way to kill an hour and a half without having to think too hard.
Bottom Line: 3 out of 4 (worth a look)
This is, indeed, a comedy. It is mostly funny, though it won't have
anybody rolling in the aisles. This movie is terrific, but not because
of the acting or directing...what this movie does is demonstrate the
possibility of positive change. If you allow yourself to suspend
disbelief about certain aspects of the plot, you'll discover that you
can relate to and understand the struggles the sisters go through. They
are universal--every human being has been in some dysfunctional, stuck
or dying organization. Everybody knows what it feels like, and
everybody wishes that they could do something about it.
I think every member of every church, synagogue, mosque, house of worship, civic organization, school, committee, and/or organization of any kind should be tied to a chair and made to watch this movie. It's a paean to possibility, and a wonderful encouragement to those who believe that life could be better than it is.
I think sister act is fantastic! Whoopie Goldberg does a terrific job
as playing sister Mary Clarence, but i think what makes the movie is
Wendy Makkenna in playing sister Mary Robert. She has a fantastic voice
and is entertaining, i love the way in which at the beginning she's shy
then through gaining confidence in her singing she turns into a diva
although through sister act and sister act 2 she's timid and very light
hearted and this is what makes me love her more! Also the way in which
she is easy to watch and is very pretty, so i think. Wendy Makkenna
(Mary Robert) makes me want to watch the movie over and over again.
This is a great movie. It is light, interesting, funny, and - well, just great. The plot is not extremely predictable, though you can tell what could happen after a while. All the characters were entertaining. The night club scene with Mary Roberts, Mary Clarence, and Kathy Najimy's character was great... as was the scene where Delores becomes Mary Clarence and the nuns in church here her yell at Mother Superior because of the wardrobe.
When I first watched Sister Act all those years ago (1993) I remember
thinking to myself that it wasn't a great film, at that point in time I
would have given it 4/10. However, on Sunday 13th March 2005 I noticed
that Sister Act was on TV and because I wasn't doing a lot I decided to
watch it and I'm glad I did because it was AWESOME...
I thought that all the characters played off each other brilliantly, which made the film more enjoyable to watch.
I believe that the best character is Sister Mary Robert (Wendy Makkena) because of the way she starts of shy and mousy but then gains confidant's through her AWESOME singing and blossoms into a more fun and upbeat character. I think that Mary Robert is very entertaining and easy to watch! I find myself watching the choir scenes over and over because Mary Robert's performances are just AWESOME!
The combination of the characters, the music, the storyline and Mary Robert just make Sister Act an AWESOME smash hit comedy that should be seen at least once! 10/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Referencing two movies about people on the run from gangsters, NUNS ON
THE RUN and most notable SOME LIKE IT HOT, this time SISTER ACT flips
the genders and makes its central character a lounge singer named
Delores vanCartier who has an apparent knack for getting herself into
some pretty heavy situations. As seen in the first reel, she's one of
those girls whom we know somewhere along the line they will wind up in
the wrong side of the tracks. In the next shot, our predictions are
made true when we see her performing for peanuts in a Reno lounge act
doing covers for old Motown songs. What she doesn't realize is that she
will sing those same songs, but in a totally different, more religious
This is the setup that Emile Ardolino in one of his final films brings to the screen, and it's one that is genuine entertainment if you don't want too much analysis of a cinematic nature. Even though the story is more or less a retread and has the look and the feel of a thousand movies we've seen before, there is an honesty in the performances and the handling of the material even when at times it can be seen as a vehicle for Whoopi Goldberg. Her introduction to the sisters is a total hoot, and much of Maggie's Smith's best lines and facial expressions conveying her inability to handle this kind of situation are found here as well as Kathy Najimy's ability to steal scenes as the perpetually optimistic Sister Mary Robert. The script allows for these characters to also grow and not just be foils to Goldberg: Ruth McKenna literally finds her voice and Kathy Najimy just shines. Even Maggie Smith's Mother Superior, with her cool, icy exterior, shows that she's also human and not just a walking religious image.
A surprise hit when it was released in 1992, SISTER ACT spawned a much less successful sequel, SISTER ACT: BACK IN THE HABIT, which proved that if it isn't broken, why fix it. A clever movie, maybe a little too pedestrian in its filmed images but laugh-out-loud funny as well as surprisingly thoughtful at its conclusion.
Deloris Van Cartier (Whoopi Goldberg) is a lounge singer at a successful Reno casino, and is also the mistress of its manager, Vince LaRocca (a lazy Harvey Keitel), a drugs baron. Feeling unloved, she finally decides to quit her job at the casino and split up with Vince when he gives her his wife's old fur coat as a present. But then Deloris accidentally walks in on Vince dispatching one of his snitch employees, and literally has to make a run for her life. Taking refuge with the police, she discovers that she is required to testify in court when Vince is charged for his dirty deeds. But until then, the police arrange for her to hide out at a nunnery in Chicago, overseen by the Mother Superior (Maggie Smith). As Deloris reluctantly adapts to her new lifestyle as Sister Mary Clarence, she strikes up friendships with the unsuspecting nuns at the monastery, and even finds a way to put her singing skills to good use. But wherever she goes, Vince is never far behind
The above plot synopsis is likely to imply to the unknowing that 'Sister Act' is a "woman in jeopardy" thriller, when actually it's the complete opposite. The creators of the film seem to have designed a worthy fish-out-of-water comedy, and then simply used the bookends of the film as window dressing. It's all the story you need, though, when you have Whoopi Goldberg in the lead.
I've always had a preferment to Goldberg's shockingly underused skills as a dramatic actress, but her funny act can make virtually any film enjoyable. This is one of them. However, this being a family film, the climax is slightly underwhelming, and seems to be trying to be funny that actually letting off tension. But 'Sister Act' is a decent comedy regardless.
~ 7/10 ~
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