Sister Act

Movie review by
Colette DeDonato, Common Sense Media
Sister Act Movie Poster Image
'90s musical comedy has violence, cursing.
  • PG
  • 1992
  • 100 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 17 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

While you'd expect Whoopi's character to be the one needing to be "saved," she's the one who saves the church and helps the neighborhood by using her talents and bringing out the talents of others. Nuns living in a convent in a rough part of town start to clean up the neighborhood and make inroads into the community around them. Nun characters are seen as individuals instead of stereotypes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The nuns work together to clean up the rough neighborhood around them by removing graffiti, throwing out garbage, and decorating the outside of their convent and church with colorful street art. While flawed in some ways, the lead character has the gift of music and discovers she also has the gift of teaching music to others. 

Violence

The lead character inadvertently walks in on her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, a mafia boss, as he orders and witnesses his henchmen shoot and kill a "rat" with guns and silencers. As a witness to the act, she is pursued and shot at by the henchmen. Later. these same guys take her and a nun into their car at gunpoint -- the lead character opens one of the back doors and tosses the nun out the door where she rolls onto the street unharmed. 

Sex

Some kissing and mild mentions of sex.

Language

Occasional profanity: "s--t," "hell." Whoopi Goldberg's character says "Bless you!" in such a way as to imply the f-word instead of "bless." Mafia boss talks of knowing the lead character, "in the Biblical sense."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some references to alcohol. Whoopi's character, who's reluctantly hiding out in a convent, inspired the movie's tagline: "No booze! No sex! No drugs! No way!" Drinking and smoking inside a casino. Champagne drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sister Act is a 1992 comedy in which Whoopi Goldberg plays a Reno casino singer who teaches a convent of nuns how to sing after she's placed there as part of a witness protection program. 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. On the other hand, the nuns in this movie are not a monolithic stereotype but viewed as individuals of varying personalities and temperaments. 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 many 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. Some gun violence besides the killing at the beginning. Occasional profanity, including a strongly implied f-word when Goldberg's character says, dripping with angry sarcasm, "Bless you!"

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCommonSenseChristian May 4, 2014

Not Your Average Nun Story

Where would you go if you had to hide from the mob? Lounge singer and '60s girl group aficionado Delores van Cartier finds herself at St. Catherine's,... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 year old Written byTsion April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written byleftbehindcrazed8 January 4, 2011

SHOOTING SCENE!!

I love this movie! My mom and I always watch it together, but not with my 6 year old sister, and here's why: the violence. At the beginning there is a very... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

Hilarious Riot of Fun for Ages 11 an up!

Sister Act might be one of the funniest movies in the world. And the music is awesome. The story tells the story of casino singer Delores VanCartier (Whoopi),... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about "the mob" and Italian-American stereotypes and why they are so prevalent -- nearly revered -- on TV and in movies. 

  • This movie is an example of a "fish out of water" movie, a common premise in which a character from an opposite walk of life must now adapt to a new life in unfamiliar surroundings. Why is this type of story so popular in both dramas and comedies? What are some other examples of "fish out of water" stories?

  • Has this movie held up for modern audiences, or does it seem dated? What are the qualities that might make a movie stand the test of time? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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