What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while most of this movie takes place in a cloistered Catholic convent, the story begins with a murder committed off-screen by the main character's boyfriend, a stereotypical Italian-American mafia character. When the main character, a lounge singer with a shady past only alluded to, is sent to a convent to hide, she doesn't respect the rules (the movie's tagline: "No booze! No sex! No drugs! No way!"), makes a number of jokey references to what she's forced to live without, and sneaks out to a biker bar. While she rebels against her holy surroundings, she also uses her talents to spiff up the choir and the community.
What's the story?
Whoopi Goldberg plays Deloris Van Cartier, a Reno lounge singer and dancer who is forced to leave her racy lifestyle behind when she witnesses her gangster boyfriend (Harvey Keitel) shoot someone. The police hide her away in an inner-city convent where she must reluctantly pretend, with the help of an equally reluctant Mother Superior played by Maggie Smith, to be a nun. Deloris' expertise as a doo-wop Supremes-style performer pays off when she is employed to rescue the severely off-key choir's reputation. Suddenly, the once sleep-inducing choir is as lively as a Broadway show.
Is it any good?
The musical numbers really make SISTER ACT. And Goldberg shines as the rebellious "nun" whose iconoclastic attitude affects not just the choir, but everyone in the convent who soon dons new habits -- both good and bad. Deloris' gregarious spirit and instant popularity eventually garner unneeded media attention: the Pope comes to visit, and soon after, TV crews. When this captures the attention of Deloris' ex-boyfriend, who is still trying to find her, the mob-crime focus of the story is back on, bringing PG-style justice to make a happy ending.
Sister Act's success -- due mostly to Goldberg, who was brilliantly cast after Bette Midler abandoned the project -- spawned a 1992 performance by Goldberg and the "nuns" at a Democratic fundraiser for Bill Clinton, and Sister Act: The Musical, a stage adaptation of the film, premiered at the Pasadena playhouse in 2006. A sequel ,Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, followed in 1993.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about "the mob" and Italian-American stereotypes and why they are so prevalent -- nearly revered -- on TV and in movies. Families can also discuss what it means to rebel and whether there are circumstances in which rebellion is justified. Even if Deloris is victorious in the end, is there a way she could have shown more respect for the convent's rules? What does Deloris, as a streetwise African-American woman, have to offer this troupe of sheltered nuns? What do they have to offer her?