Making the Grades
It seems hard to believe that in an hour and a half, a bottom rung lounge singer can be transformed into a holy sister, especially when the character is played by "nun" other than Whoopi Goldberg.
In Sister Act, Whoopi finds out the relationship with her boyfriend has more problems than the fact that he is married to someone else... he is also married to the mob. After witnessing a murder, Whoopi is a very unwelcome in-law. The Reno police department assists her in finding unlikely refuge in a convent. While there, Whoopi teaches the Reverend Mother how to run a convent, and Whoopi learns a little, too.
To the credit of this film, a great effort has been made to understate the violence, sex and coarseness of the characters' language. However, these elements are the only reason there is a story here. There are some funny lines, and for the most part it shows the other sisters in a good and respectful light.
Two of Hollywood's best loved themes are also contained in the script. Every police department has at least one bad cop, and religion is dull.
In reference to the latter, Whoopi's hip character is just what it takes to make the inept Reverend Mother see the light. "Church is boring," Sister Mary (Whoopi's character)tells her. Through some simple adjustments to the choir, and some street smart advice, Whoopi packs the pews to the point that the Pope himself must come and see. This idea is old, and the scenario unrealistic.
The saving grace is the terrific score. Motown sounds echo through the chapel, and wind around a very predictable plot and typecast characters.