Sister Act makes an excellent litmus test to find out if you or your loved ones are movie snobs. Take this test: Watch the movie if you find yourself filled with hatred and contempt for all things low and plebian you are a movie snob. This might be a good time to remind your self that movies are a popular form of entertainment; not every movie needs to be Citizen Kane. While it will never be remembered as a classic of the medium, Sister Act has much to recommend it.Whoopi Goldberg plays a midlevel Vegas lounge singer named Deloris Van Cartier who manages to witness her Mafioso boyfriend Vince LaRocca’s (Harvey Keitel) murder. Turning state’s witness (Because the rules of light comedy preclude Deloris from having any complicity in Murder.) it now becomes necessary to find someplace to hide her. As it turns out the nuns need her as much as she needs a place to hole up. Deloris is given a new name (nom de’ nun?) and proceeds to cause trouble that is until she finds herself in charge of the choir. Having found her niche the rest of the movie rolls along in all of the ways that you expect.
There it is: the perfect fish out of water set-up. What is it about the Catholic faith that makes it such a perfect place to hide? Think about it: besides Sister Act (and it’s mediocre sequel ‘Back in the Habit’) there are many films where somebody runs and hides in the priesthood or a nunnery. There is a gentle bit of moralizing here as we are shown quite clearly that the head of the order (Maggie Smith) has been letting her commitment to the outside world slip. Only when Deloris the outsider comes in do the find out how to reach people in the modern world.
So what is that makes this movie worth watching? Well to begin with the people here are talented Kathy Najimy and Bill Nunn all show up in the supporting cast. Not to mention Goldberg and Keitel there is a feeling of solid work on this movie, everybody does what they are supposed to and because they do it with considerable style and talent the story stays buoyant enough to keep you interested. There is also a ‘feel-good’ factor, catchy music, and a passing stab at social commentary; none of it is the least bit confrontational or edgy.Perhaps the best recommendation I can make in terms of this movie is to say that it does exactly what it says it’s going to do. Gives you a few laughs, tugs a bit at the heart, gives you the gentlest of moral messages and sends you on your way. A perfect movie to bust out if the situation calls for something that isn’t going to bother anyone at a family gathering.