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Sister Act: 20th Anniversary Edition/Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 1, 2012 by  



Hilarious and fun!  Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Whoopi Goldberg’s classic comedy hit “Sister Act” and “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” on Blu-ray!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Sister Act: 20th Anniversary Edition/Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

FILM RELEASE: Sister Act (1992), Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)

DURATION: Sister Act (100 Minutes), Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (106 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles:English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: PG

Release Date: June 19, 2012

Sister Act

Directed by Emilie Ardolino

Written by Joseph Howard

Produced by Teri Schwartz

Co-Producer: Mario Iscovich

Executive Producer: Scott Rudin

Associate Producer: Cindy Gilmore

Music by Marc Shaiman

Cinematography: Adam Greenberg

Edited by Colleen Halsey, Richard Halsey

Casting by Lynda Gordon, Judy Taylor

Production Design: Jackson De Govia

Art Direction: Eve Cauley

Set Decoration by Thomas L. Roysden

Costume Design by Molly Maginnis

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

Directed by Bill Duke

Written by James Orr, Jim Cruickshank, Judi Ann Mason

Producer: Dawn Steel, Scott Rudin

Executive Producer: Mario Iscovich, Laurence Marr

Co-Executive Producer: Christopher Meledandri

Associate Producer: Marc Shaiman, Ron Stacker Thompson

Music by Miles Goodman

Cinematography by Oliver Wood

Edited by John Carter, Pembroke J. Herring, Stuart H. Pappe

Casting by Aleta Chappelle

Production Design by John DeCuir Jr.

Art Direction by Louis M. Mann

Set Decoration by Bruce A. Gibson

Costume Design by Francine Jamison-Tanchuk

Starring:

Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence

Maggie Smith as Mother Superior

Kathy Najimy as Sister Mary Patrick

Wendy Makkena as Sister Mary Robert

Mary Wickes as Sister Mary Lazarus

Harvey Keitel as Vince LaRocca

Bill Nunn as Lt. Eddie Souther

Robert Miranda as Joey

Richard Portnow as Willy

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence

Maggie Smith as Mother Superior

Kathy Najimy as Sister Mary Patrick

Wendy Makkena as Sister Mary Robert

Mary Wickes as Sister Mary Lazarus

Barnard Hughes as Father Maurice

James Coburn as Mr. Crisp

Michael Jeter as Father Ignatius

Sheryl Lee Ralph as Florence Watson

Robert Pastorelli as Joey Bustamante

Thomas Gottschalk as Father Wolfgang

Lauryn Hill as Rita Louise Watson

Brad Sullivan as Father Thomas

Alanna Ubach as Maria

Ryan Toby as Westley  Glen “Ahmal” James

Ron Johnson as Richard “Sketch” Pinshum

Jennifer Love Hewitt as Margaret

Devin Kamin as Frankie

Christian Fitzharris as Tyler Chase

Tanya Blount as Tanya

Mehran Marcos Sedghi as Marcos


Academy Award®-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg (1990, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Ghost) stars as a sassy lounge singer forced to hide from the mob in the last place anyone would ever look for her – a convent – where her fun-loving attitude turns the nuns‟ tone-deaf choir into a soulful chorus of swingin‟ singin‟ sisters. In the side-splitting sequel, Whoopi is back for another hilarious adventure as Sister Mary Clarence spreads the gift of music and the power of laughter at an inner-city school.

Harvey Keitel and Kathy Najimy join a heavenly cast in these habit-forming comedies busting with „60s Motown hits. Relive all the fun and irresistible music of both movies with a stunning state-of-the-art digital restoration!

The ’90s was an excellent decade for comedienne and actress Whoopi Goldberg.

From her award winning performance in “Ghost” (1990) and a fan favorite in the sci-fi syndicated TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, Whoopi Goldberg was one of the busiest actresses on the big screen.

And if there was one film that Whoopi Goldberg would remembered for, it’s her lead performance in the role of Deloris Van Cartier and Sister Mary Clarence in the 1992 film “Sister Act”.

The film which was budgeted at $24 million would go on to earn over $231 million.  And the success of the film would ensure a sequel the following year with “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit”.  A comedy film that would bring back the talents from the first film but also feature the major film debut of R&B singer Lauryn Hill and actress Jennifer Love Hewitt.

And now to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Sister Act”, Touchstone Home Entertainment have released both films together on Blu-ray.

The first film, “Sister Act” would introduce us to a young Deloris Wilson at the St. Anne’s Academy school back in 1958.  Deloris was quite sassy and was scolded for disobeying rules.  The film would then fast forward to Deloris’ life and she is a lounge singer at a casino known as “The Moonlight Lounge” in Reno.

She is having an affair with a mobster named Vince LaRocca (as portrayed by Harvey Keitel) but since he won’t leave her, Deloris decides to end the relationship.

When she goes to return the mink coats given to her by Vince and say goodbye, she witnesses Vince ordering his henchman Joey and Willy to kill their chauffeur for secretly working with the police.  Now a witness to a murder, Vince orders Joey and Willy to kill Deloris, but she manages to evade them and go right to the police.

Deloris finds out that the police has been trying to bust Vince but do not have the sufficient evidence. Until now… because she is a witness, she can take Vince down.  The problem is that they need to set a court date and doing that will take a few months.  Deloris is scared for her life and is afraid that she will be killed by Vince’s men.  But Lt. Eddie Souther (as portrayed by Bill Nunn) knows the importance of Deloris and puts her into a witness protection program, and has the right place for her, where she will never be found.

Deloris is transferred to St. Katherine’s Roman Catholic Church in the bad part of San Francisco and she is to be disguised as a nun named Sister Mary Clarence.  The only person who knows of her true identity is Lt. Souther, Monsignor O’Hara and Mother Superior (as portrayed by Maggie Smith, “Harry Potter” films).

But immediately taking residence inside the church, Sister Mary Clarence begins to object of how strict the church is and can’t follow the rules of the nuns.  But she knows it’s the only way for her to be kept safe, so she goes along with it and befriends the highly spirited Sister Mary Patrick (as portrayed by Kathy Najimy), the shy Sister Mary Robert (as portrayed by Wendy Makkena) and Sister Mary Lazarus (as portrayed by Mary Wickes, “Little Women”, “Father Dowling Mysteries”).

But when Sister Mary Clarence decides to escape from the church and visit a bar, she doesn’t know that Sister Mary Patrick and Sister Mary Robert has gone after her, in hopes of bringing her back before Mother Superior finds out.

Unfortunately, the three are caught and Mother Superior decides to kick Sister Mary Clarence out…until she comes up with a last minute idea to have Sister Mary Clarence guide the not-so-talented choir.  And in time, Sister Mary Clarence is able to transform the dismal vocal choir to an amazing, energetic choir that begins to draw people from the bad neighborhood and all over San Francisco to the church (which was barely attended prior to the choir’s popularity).

But as the choir becomes popular, news cameras start to show up and immediately begins to jeopardize Deloris’s involvement in the Witness Protection Program.

In “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit”, Deloris has now become a popular lounge singer in Las Vegas.  But with the success that Deloris had brought to the church for her guidance with the choir, Reverend Mother and the nuns of St. Katherine’s Roman Catholic Church needs Deloris’ help once again.

Reverend Mother asks Deloris if she can bring the energy that she brought to their choir to the music class at St. Francis School.  The school is facing closure and as the nuns are having difficulty teaching the students (as they do not listen to their teacher and rather do their own thing in class), so Sister Mary Clarence is back to see if she can transform this unruly bunch of teenagers into a wonderful choir.

Unfortunately for Sister Mary Clarence, a student named Rita (as portrayed by Lauryn Hill) and the other students in the class would rather work against her.  Fed up with how the class is behaving, Sister Mary Clarence decides to become much more strict with the class and tell them that if they don’t want to study or listen to her, she’ll flunk them. While most of the students know they can’t do that, Rita chooses to leave the class.

But when Sister Mary Robert overhears Rita singing in church, she knows that Rita is a wonderful talent and urges Sister Mary Clarence to work with her.  And knowing that she has a big challenge in her hands, can Sister Mary Clarence bring out the student’s true potential and prepare this unruly choir for the State Choir Championship?

VIDEO:

“Sister Act” and “Sister Act 2: Back in Habit” are presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). For the most part, the upgraded HD transfer looks very good, especially compared to the original DVD release which now shows its age.  Colors are warm, skintones are natural, black levels are very good and deep.  But for the most part, there is much more clarity in the film.  From Whoopi Goldberg’s bigger, fluffier hair to the close ups of the characters, the video quality is very good and there is a fine layer of grain present, very clean and saw no banding, edge enhancement or any video problems during my viewing of both films.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sister Act” and “Sister Act 2: Back in Habit” are presented in Engish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  It’s important for people to know that the film is primarily dialogue and music driven.  Dialogue is clear, as with the music.  “Sister Act 2: Back in Habit” tends to use more bass beats but I didn’t really notice too much surround channel use only ambiance when crowds are seen.  But for these two comedy films, the lossless soundtrack was appropriate.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Sister Act: 20th Anniversary Edition/Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit ” comes with the DVD version of “Sister Act” and “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit”.  As for special features, the Blu-ray release comes with:

  • Inside Sister Act – (12:30) Interview with Director Emile Ardolino and the cast of “Sister Act”.
  • “If My Sister’s In Trouble” by Lady Soul – (3:59) Music Video by Lady Soul
  • “I Will Follow Him” by Deloris and the Sisters – This is only featured on the included VD of “Sister Act”.

A hilarious, fun ’90s comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg. “Sister Act” is probably a comedy film that the comedienne and actress will be forever remembered by.

For those who grew up during this time period, Whoopi Goldberg was one of the top actresses and as a fan of Goldberg, I was following her comedy routines, her role on “Star Trek: The Next Genertion” and also her films (yes, including “Jumping Jack Flash”).   But when “Sister Act” came out in theaters, it was a big hit!  In fact, you would see the singing nuns performing on various shows and suffice to say, the film propelled Goldberg’s career as an actress, but showing that she can be a profitable lead actress.

The first film was absolutely entertaining as Goldberg played the character of Deloris, who has a difficult time adapting to the rules of the Mother Superior at the church for her witness protection program and you know that her character of Deloris/Sister Mary Clarence will get into trouble…that is until she is able to interject some of her music skill and vibrancy to the choir.  The supporting characters are equally fun, from the fun, high-spirit Mary Patrick or the very shy Mary Robert or the very dry but blunt Sister Mary Lazarus.

And the choir are literally the underdogs and you can’t help but root for the underdogs as this choir that can’t sign a tune, is suddenly transformed to a choir with so much synergy and energy that you want to see them succeed.

But of course, aside from the choir storyline, you have the well-cast Harvey Keitel playing the mob boss Vince LaRocca and what better person to play the mob role!

So, while the first film was exciting, hilarious and a lot of fun to watch.  The second film tried to repeat the same synergy to a group of unruly teenagers.  Unfortunately, that is when the story faces the typical ’80s and ’90s banality of teacher tries to help undisciplined teenagers.  Granted, the concept of the storyline is not about underprivileged or unruly youths, but these are a bunch of kids who have musical talent.  They just need a leader to hone that talent and that is where sister Mary Clarence comes along.

While “Sister Act” is a comedy film that is timeless, because the “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” relies on teenagers of that time era and the of love hip-hop and music of that era, the music featured has a very early ’90s feel that pretty much dates the film.

But I will say that for many who were fans of music artist Lauryn Hill, this is her major film debut, as with actress Jennifer Love Hewitt.

And while “Sister Act” retains its humor and comedy and that extra mob drama built into the storyline, “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” feels like watching an episode of “Glee” and seeing if these teenagers can win the state choir tournament and while enjoyable, the writing was not as strong as the first film.

As for the Blu-ray release, the 20th anniversary of “Sister Act” brings us both films to HD via Blu-ray.  And for fans of the film, the upgrade will be worth it.  Although there are no new special features included in this 20th Anniversary release.  But as an extra incentive, you do get the DVD’s of both films included with the Blu-ray release.

Overall, “Sister Act: 20th Anniversary Edition/Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” is a fun comedy release featuring the best Whoopi Goldberg comedy film!  While the first film was hilarious and fun and its humor manages to hold up two decades later, the second film was good but not as entertaining as the first film.   But the fact that both films are included together in the Blu-ray release makes it a much more appealing.






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