Reverend Mother: Girl groups? Boogie woogie on the piano? What were you thinking?
Sister Mary Clarence: I was thinking more like Vegas, you know, get some butts in the seats.
Two films that star Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris Van Cartier, a Reno lounge singer who pretends to be a nun and introduces excitement into the formerly-solemn local church music.In the first Sister Act, Deloris witnesses her Mafioso boyfriend commit a murder. She enters Witness Protection and is forcibly inducted into an abbey as "Sister Mary Clarence". The only other person at the abbey who knows her true identity is Mother Superior. Deloris has to follow the vows of poverty, obedience, hard work, chastity, and getting up at 5 AM. Eventually, she becomes the leader of the abbey choir, and she decides to make some improvements by combining spirituals and R&B...Hilarity Ensues... with a tambourine.A very popular film, arguably Whoopi Goldberg's best role ever, with a cast of beloved character actors and a magnificently long-suffering Maggie Smith as the Mother Superior. The biggest draw is probably the music itself, which reinterprets such classics as "My Guy" into a religious format. In 2006, the movie was made into a stage musical, with songs by Alan Menken (yes, thatAlan Menken).In Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Deloris returns to visit her old friends at the convent and finds that the community school they've been teaching at is slowly going under. Delores agrees to return as Sister Mary Clarence and teach the music class to a large group of very disinterested teenagers (led by a young Lauryn Hill). After a series of pranks being pulled on her, she strikes back in her own way and humbles the kids so that she can work with them. She decides to form the kids into a choir, singing the same sort of music from the previous film.
These films provide examples of:
Arc Words: In the second movie: "If you want to be somebody, if you want to go somewhere, you better wake up and pay attention."
Big Fun: Sister Mary Patrick loves everything, unapologetically. When Deloris asks her if she's always so cheerful:
Sister Mary Patrick: "Am I? All right, I am, I can't help it. I've always been upbeat, optimistic, perky. My mother always said, 'that girl is pure sunshine. She'll grow up to either be a nun or a stewardess'. Coffee?"
Blithe Spirit: Inverted. Only one character in the entire movie insists that things should be the way they are, but she is subverted by everyone else.
Call Back: Reverend Mother does not approve of the nuns leaving the convent at night, following Deloris into the bar across the streets, because people don't respect religious figures much in their neighbourhood. "These robes no longer protect our sisters. The walls do." Later, Deloris is abducted by Vince's thugs, Willy and Joey. They bring her back to the Moonlight Lounge and Vince orders them to shoot her - but they refuse, because "We can't waste a nun."
Education Mama: Initially, Rita's mom does not bless her choir participation. It's made quite clear, albeit obliquely, that the reason she disapproves of her daughter's desire to sing and instead tries to force her to focus only on education is not a general "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" or "you have to have better opportunities and do better than I did" mentality, but because her husband tried the same path, failed utterly, and left the family destitute. So it isn't that she disparages Rita's dream, but that she finds it impractical and unrealistic and is afraid pursuing it could cost her, the same as happened to him.
Even Evil Has Standards: Vince's hitmen Joey and Willy are very reluctant about killing a nun, even if it's someone they know dressed as a nun. Just the fact that she may have found God in her time at the convent is enough to make them uncomfortable and they even go along with her when she starts praying.
Reverend Mother: I guarantee you she is no broad! She is Sister Mary Clarence of St. Katherine's Convent. She's a model of generosity, virtue, and love! You have my word for it, gentlemen, she is a nun! Willy: (to Vince) Ya hear that? Now, aren't you glad we didn't shoot her?
The Faceless: Pope John Paul II's face is never shown, even though he appears from behind (presumably because he's too famous to portray with an actor and they could never get the real Pope to make a cameo in this film).
Fantasy-Forbidding Mother: Rita's mother is determined to squash her dreams of becoming a singer. She won't even allow her to join the school choir as an extra curricular because she thinks she should be spending all her time studying to get into a good college.
Notable for having a particularly weak and vague motivation, where all we get is that it has something to do with Rita's father."You're not in there believing in yourself, are you?" Although see above: while vague, it isn't hard to read between the lines and guess that Rita's father tried pursuing his musical dreams, failed, and it cost him and Mrs. Watson enough to make her fear her daughter following the same path and failing too. So, less "don't believe in yourself" as "believing in yourself isn't enough in the real world".
God-Is-Love Songs: Played with. Romantic songs such as "My Guy" are given new lyrics, focusing on religion rather than romance.
Groin Attack: Deloris does this to both of Vince's goons after a prayer on her knees.
Hey Lets Put On A Show: While the choir competition in the sequel isn't created or put on by Deloris and the other nuns, it otherwise fulfills this trope, seeing as it a) gives the students confidence in themselves b) proves the school is and can be successful again and c) convinces the archdiocese not to close it.
Hidden Depths: The main theme of the movie. Both Delores and the nuns show it.
Needle in a Stack of Needles: Double Subverted. Near the end of the film, Delores escapes into a casino, where she sticks out because she's wearing her nun's habit...until a bunch of the other nuns also run into the casino to find her.
Previously On: The events of Sister Act are summed up with a medley at the beginning of the sequel.
Save Our Students: The sequel, where Whoopi's nun friends ask her to help turn around the choir of the Catholic school she attended as a child. Also overlaps with Saving the Orphanage, since thanks to the greedy superintendent, if Deloris can't turn the problem class around, the archdiocese is going to close the whole school and have it torn down to make, yes, a parking lot.
Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Pretty high on the idealistic end, as Diana Ross cover songs are all that's needed to turn a slum into a vibrant street corner. The Reverend Mother expresses cynicism that her nuns can handle the harsh realities of the street, but that's because she's the "Stop Having Fun" Nun and her lesson is about how you can't shelter yourself away from the real world.
Spell My Name with an S: Deloris van Cartier, according to the subtitles. While the surname was chosen, it seems that her given name was spelled that way even as a child.
Stuffy Brit: Reverend Mother (it is Maggie Smith, after all). However, this gradually modifies, especially in the sequel.
Take a Third Option: Regarding singing the traditional way as Reverend Mother wanted or the new popular way brought by Deloris in the Pope visit. They ended up singing the first verse traditionally and then transitioning to the newer way.
Took a Level in Kindness: Delores' character arc is essentially this in the first movie. Examplified best when she is running for her life in the beginning she knocks people down and just runs. At the end, she stops to make sure they are all right, despite guns shooting at her.
Viva Reno: Where part of the first movie was set. Reverend Mother isn't to impressed.
Sister Mary Patrick: And what a lovely name, Reno! Reverend Mother: ...and Gomorrah!