Nuns Just Want to Have Whoopi
"Sister Act" to put it simply is fun from start to end, from seeing Whoopi Goldberg as a Reno lounge singer to watching Whoopi Goldberg go into hiding as a nun. Watching Whoopi energetically improve the fortunes of a convent and its choir whilst Whoopi also finds herself getting in trouble with the Mother superior played by Maggie Smith. I could go on because whilst "Sister Act" is fun and has some good comedy writing it is purely down to Whoopi Goldberg that it comes alive and makes you laugh again and again even now 20 years after its release. That's not to say the performances from Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy, Wendy Makkena and Mary Wickes are not good but it is Whoopi which makes "Sister Act" memorable.
Reno lounge singer Deloris Van Carter (Whoopi Goldberg - Ghost) finds herself in deep water when she witnesses her boyfriend, underworld crime boss Vince LaRocca (Harvey Keitel), commit murder. Having gone to the police, Lt. Eddie Souther (Bill Nunn) decides to hide Doloris for her own safety till she can testify in court and where better to hide a brash lounge singer than in a convent masquerading as a nun. But a life of discipline under Mother Superior's watchful gave (Maggie Smith - Hook), even for just a few days, is too much for Deloris and after leading a couple of her fellow nuns astray in a bar finds herself being assigned to the choir. Well singing is one thing Deloris knows about and she soon whips the choir into shape doing her job a little too well as the choir and the convent becomes big news and LaRocca learns of Deloris's whereabouts.
When "Sister Act" starts there is no denying that it gets straight down to business delivering fun, be it the amusing seen of a young Dolores upsetting a nun whist at school or when she comes to realise that she is having an affair with a crime lord. But whilst all of this is fun especially the medley of numbers which Dolores sings with her backing singers in a Reno casino it is also a little ordinary as all of this set up basically leads to Dolores being put in a convent to protect her from Vince LaRocca. And as you would expect being a brassy sort of gal Dolores finds life in a convent dull and a real struggle and so there is something a little obvious to this. You know she will end up upsetting the Mother Superior and leading a couple of nuns astray, what else do you expect.
But that is just the first part of "Sister Act" and that is followed by her becoming a pivotal part of the convent community, helping the choir to sing, leading out reach programmes and so on. It is all good fun especially as we watch her turn a ramshackle choir into something special as out goes old church music and in come contemporary twists such as "My God". Of course "Sister Act" is only going to lead one way and at some point LaRocca will find out where Dolores is and try and silence her only for her new friends to help her out. In a way the actual storyline to "Sister Act" is not that special and goes through a series of less than surprising stages.
But "Sister Act" is full of good writing especially when it comes to Dolores not getting along with the Mother Superior, it is expected but so much fun. And so is the way she turns the choir into something quite special finding their voices. But the thing which makes this so good is Whoopi Goldberg because not only does she give some traditional Whoopi attitude to the character of Dolores but also is full of energy. Because Whoopi basically bounds through "Sister Act" that you don't have time to realise that some of the jokes don't work and the fun she is so obviously having playing the role comes through in an infectious manner. It is simply impossible not to enjoy Whoopi be it when she is delivering attitude or bouncing around conducting the choir.
Whilst Whoopi Goldberg is central to the success of "Sister Act" the other performances are just as important especially Maggie Smith as the traditional and disapproving Mother Superior who is opposed to the new found energy which Dolores brings to the choir. The head to heads between Whoopi and Maggie are so sharp that you wish there was more. And both Kathy Najimy and Wendy Makkena are just as good as Sister Mary Patrick and Sister Mary Robert delivering quirky characters.
What this all boils down to is that "Sister Act" is simply a fun movie which is so full of energy and laughs that it is infectious. But whilst there are enjoyable performances all around it is Whoopi Goldberg who makes "Sister Act" the fun movie it is, delivering attitude and energy which leaves you with a huge smile on your face.