tek's rating: ¼

Sister Act (PG)
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This came out in 1992, and it was a big hit. I'm sure I saw it at least once on VHS in the 90s, but I don't remember how much I liked it at the time. I re-watched it on Disney+ in 2024 so I could write a review. And... well, for quite a ways into the movie, I thought it was just sort of okay, like maybe I'd rate it one smiley, or maybe one and some fraction. But as it went on, eventually I started liking it more, especially once Deloris took over the church choir. And my estimation of the movie steadily rose to where it is now, a little over three smileys. In fact, there were moments that I actually kind of loved the movie, but overall I would say I just rather liked it. More than I remembered liking it.

After a brief (but I would say memorable) scene set in 1968, the movie flashes forward to the present (1992), when a woman named Deloris Van Cartier (Whoopi Goldberg) is a lounge singer in Reno, Nevada. She's having an affair with a married man named Vince LaRocca (Harvey Keitel), whom she apparently doesn't realize is a mob boss. She's upset that he won't divorce his wife, and is even more upset when he tries to make it up to her by sending her a mink coat, which turns out to belong to his wife. When she goes to return it to Vince, she witnesses him ordering the murder of an employee of his. She goes to the police, and Lt. Eddie Souther convinces her to go into witness protection while awaiting a trial for her to testify against Vince. She's not happy about testifying, and even less happy about going into hiding. Souther takes her to stay at a convent in San Francisco, where the only person who will know who she really is is the Reverend Mother (Maggie Smith), who also isn't happy about having Deloris stay there. But because their church is struggling with low attendance, and Souther offers to give them a large donation, she agrees to let Deloris stay there, where she dresses her as a nun and gives her the name Sister Mary Clarence. (Actually, the church's priest, Monsignor O'Hara, also knows who she is; he's the one who helped Souther convince the Reverend Mother to hide Deloris there.)

Well, there are a bunch of nuns at the convent, but we only really get to know a few of them. There's an exuberant woman named Sister Mary Patrick (Kathy Najimy), a shy novitiate named Sister Mary Robert (Wendy Makkena), and the choir director, Sister Mary Lazarus. While Mary Clarence struggles to fit in at first, she does soon befriend Mary Patrick and Mary Robert, and they eventually convince her to take over as choir director. Which she manages to do without alienating Mary Lazarus. The choir was really pretty bad, but in one of the movie's many unbelievable plot points, Mary Clarence teaches them to be good singers within a week. And she incorporates a Motown style into their singing, which starts bringing people in off the streets to listen, and within the next few weeks, the church's attendance has increased dramatically, and the convent makes the TV news, both for its choir's popularity and for the nuns starting to help out the community. And I must say, I did quite enjoy the choir's music. But the Reverend Mother did not. She would have made Mary Clarence give up directing the choir after her first week, if not for the intervention of Monsignor O'Hara.

I don't want to spoil too much more, except that there's a leak in the police department, so Vince eventually learns where Deloris is. I'm really not sure how Souther figured out who the mole was; I mean, the thing that did it for him really didn't seem to me like evidence of any wrongdoing. But whatever. He rushes to San Francisco to protect Deloris, but she doesn't want to abandon her new friends before a big concert they have coming up. And... everyone ends up in danger. But of course there's ultimately a happy ending. Other than that, I'm not sure what else to say, except that, while I found some of the movie a bit funny, and definitely classify it as a comedy (and not, say, a serio-comedy), I liked it more for its more serious aspects. Not so much the whole thing with Vince wanting to kill Deloris before she could testify, but the character interactions between her and the other nuns. And I enjoyed their music, as I said (but it bears repeating). And while I'm not a particularly religious person, and have no interest in attending church (and I've never been Catholic), I did like how the music and service to the community saved the church from closing down. Also, I kinda have to say, I always had a crush on Mary Robert.

Followed by "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit"

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