The great thing about popcorn is that it makes you feel good... well that's what it does for me anyway! So by definition, popcorn movies should be feel-good classics, and they don't get much better than Sister Act. This movie has all the elements of a good popcorn movie... some big name stars, great support cast, a simple plot, fish-out-water comedy, the rise of the underdogs and a killer soundtrack. What more could you want?
When Sister Act was released way back in 1992, Whoopi Goldberg had a bit of an up and down movie career. After stunning the movie world in her debut performance in The Color Purple, she mixed the good (Ghost) with the pretty ordinary (Soapdish, Burglar). But Sister Act was definitely one of her finer moments and it would be possible to argue that she hasn't had the same success starring in a movie since.
As you would expect the plot is nice and easy to follow. Lounge singer Dolores (Goldberg) needs witness protection so she gets placed in a struggling convent. She takes over the choir which is sounds horrible and is in desperate need of help. Her worldly ways breathe new life into the convent and the choir, while the nuns teach her a thing or two about turning her life around. Isn't it lovely how God truly works in mysterious ways... On the surface this could have been another pretty average comedy, but the cast works brilliantly together and it is the music that really sets this popcorn movie apart from the rest of the crop.
Kathy Najimy made her debut in Sister Act and impressed as the exuberant Sister Mary Patrick. Wendy Makkena provides a nice counterpoint as Sister Mary Robert, the quiet little mouse who learns to believe in herself and become the star singer of the choir. Maggie Smith is also fantastic as the sour Reverend Mother who is eventually won over by the irrepressible Goldberg. Harvey Keitel even pops up as the mob boss who starts the whole action of the plot, which was a real win for the producers considering he was one of the biggest gangster-style actors of the time.
But as I mentioned, it is the music that is the true star of the show, with the story arc of the development of the choir really driving the movie forward. Seeing the awful rabble at the start of the movie turn into a world class group with perfect harmonies and an upbeat take on classic hymns is predictable but rewarding at the same time. If you don't feel even a little bit good after watching this movie, then you need to take a good, hard look in the mirror and stop taking yourself, and the world, a little less seriously.