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Film / Sister Act

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Whoopi Goldberg as a nun... This is absolutely going to be awesome.

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.

Sister Act is a Christian-themed movie directed by Emile Ardolino and released in 1992, It stars 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. Deloris witnesses her Mafioso boyfriend Vince LaRocca (Harvey Keitel) 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 the Mother Superior (Maggie Smith). Deloris has to follow the vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity, and getting up at 5 AM and working hard. Eventually, she becomes the leader of the abbey choir, and she decides to make some improvements by combining spirituals and R&B, and the lively new music brings newcomers into the church. However, her newfound visibility does no favors for why she entered the abbey in the first place...

Hilarity Ensues. With a tambourine.

One of the most popular comedies of The '90s, and up there with Ghost (1990) as one of Whoopi Goldberg's most famous roles, with a cast of beloved character actors and a magnificently long-suffering Maggie Smith as the Mother Superior. The film also drew praise from both Catholics and actual nuns, as the film portrays Catholicism in general and nuns in particular as warm, welcoming, and human (as opposed to some of the other popular portrayals). 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.

A sequel followed in 1993, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, directed by Bill Duke. A third film is currently in the works, with Goldberg returning, set to premiere on Disney+.

The film provides examples of:

  • Anger Born of Worry: After finding out that Deloris snuck out to a bar and that Mary Patrick and Mary Robert had followed her, the Reverend Mother angry yells at Deloris for being so cavalier about her safety and that of others, as its her responsibility to ensure their well-being and the convent's walls are the only protection she can provide.
  • Answer Cut: This is how the convent is revealed to be the last place where Vince would look for Deloris. The first scene takes place in a Catholic school classroom in 1968, with a young Deloris (the film's protagonist) being a Class Clown and answering her teacher's question of "Name all the Apostles" with pop music references: "John, Paul... George and Ringo!" Her teacher, a nun, scolds her, warning her she's on the fast track to Hell and asking her, "Have you any idea what girls like you become?!" Young Deloris grins. Cut to 1992 and adult Deloris as a nightclub performer singing oldies in a Reno casino.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: When Deloris finds out about the convent's strict 9:00pm curfew, she complains to Reverend Mother; the older woman's stern (and very accurate) answer hits Deloris hard, and makes her begin to reach out to the other nuns.
    Deloris: You know, before I came here, I had a career, I had friends—I had clothing that fit. Before I came here, I was okay.
    Reverend Mother: Oh, really? From what I've heard, your singing career was almost non-existent, and your married lover wants you dead. If you're fooling anyone, it is only yourself. God has brought you here. Take the hint.
  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving:
    Reverend Mother: I hold you responsible for all of this. For introducing a lounge act into my convent, for utterly disrupting our lives, and exposing us all to mortal danger.
    ...thank you.
  • Artistic License – Religion: The films play fast and loose with various common nun tropes and stereotypes, the most notable being how they use "nun" and "sister" more or less interchangeably. Both are types of women religious, but Catholic nuns live largely cloistered lives of prayer and devotion, whereas Catholic sisters are more about public outreach under "simple" vows and helping their local communities. The first film identifies the specific order Deloris ends up in as being of Carmelite nuns, who wouldn't normally operate in the public social capacity that they do even before Deloris shook things up, nor wear those old-fashioned habits (which appear more in line with other orders like the Sisters of St. Joseph).
  • Aside Glance: During her hard work montage, Deloris briefly does this after Reverend Mother non-verbally remands her for having too much fun washing a station wagon.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Deloris leads the choir in a classical (and much improved) rendition of "Hail Holy Queen," before abruptly starting an up-tempo version.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: When Vince has Deloris and the nuns cornered, and about to shoot her, Eddie Souther fires a shot hitting Vince in the arm, saving Deloris.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: Deloris slips away from her police escort this way — only to find herself against the mafiosi who are chasing her.
  • Becoming the Mask: A variation. While Deloris certainly never takes vows or becomes an "official" nun, she does slowly lose her snarky, self-absorbed attitude as she stays in the convent. By the end of the film, she's become a genuinely kind, compassionate person—much like the other nuns. It's best summarized when, in the final scene, Reverend Mother declares that, for all intents and purposes, Deloris is Sister Mary Clarence.
  • Berate and Switch:
    Reverend Mother: I hold you responsible for all of this. For introducing a lounge act into my convent, for utterly disrupting our lives, and exposing us all to mortal danger.
    ...thank you.
  • Better than Sex: After two of the singing nuns refer to singing as being better than more innocent things such as "springtime" and "ice cream," the "heathen" Fish out of Water Deloris proclaims that singing is "better than sex," adding that it's what she has heard after a comedic Beat.
  • Big Bad: Vince, who will do anything to stay out of prison, killing anyone who could rat him out, including Deloris.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the climax, just as Vince is about to shoot Deloris, cue the window shattering to reveal Souther, who's just shot Vince.
  • 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?
  • Big "WHAT?!": Deloris employs at least one, when Lt. Eddie Souther explains he can't spring her from the convent, and also that she can't continue calling him from there.
  • 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.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: How the debate between the Reverend Mother, who represents old-school Christianity and traditional values, and Deloris, who stands for younger, hipper crowds and direct community service, ends up going. Reverend Mother is wrong to keep the sisters cloistered for so long, but her fears about the dangers of the outside world are justified when Deloris is kidnapped; similarly, Deloris is right to try to "update" the church's style, but learns that completely discarding religion for entertainment is disrespectful. They ultimately Take a Third Option and combine their ideas, best represented when, during the final concert for the Pope, the nuns open with a traditional choral arrangement of "I Will Follow Him," then break into a gospel-style version for the second part of the song—both are equally beautiful.
  • British Stuffiness: Reverend Mother (it's Maggie Smith, after all). However, this gradually modifies, especially in the sequel.
  • 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 neighborhood. "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."
  • Character Development:
    • Deloris learns how to treat others with more respect and becomes more spiritual and less mouthy.
    • Reverend Mother learns that while there's nothing wrong with the traditional ways of the Church, it's important to be open to new ideas.
    • Sister Mary Robert learns how to be more confident and gets over her stage fright. In fact, she's the one who rallies the nuns to save Deloris after she gets kidnapped by Vince's goons.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The songs "My Guy" and "I Will Follow Him" that were sung by Deloris and her backup singers are used again by the nun's choir but with different lyrics and arrangements.
    • The voice Mary Robert "always felt" was inside her, waiting to be let out, turns out to be what helps save the day during the kidnapping: Souther would never have known where Deloris had gone if he hadn't heard Mary Robert's voice carrying down the alley, and it's because he chases them that he's able to help her from the street after Deloris pushes her out of the car and find out where Vince's goons were taking her, which in turn allows her to make it back to the convent and rally the others for a rescue.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Detective Tate, one of the police detectives Deloris meets at the beginning. See The Mole below.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Deloris's backup singers wonder what will happen to the act without Deloris to "pick all the music and tell us where to stand and everything"; i.e., she is the group's music arranger as well as its lead singer, which comes in handy as the convent's new choir mistress.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Justified. How many people know that Anglicans and Orthodox Christians, among others, have nuns?
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Deloris goes to the cops to report Vince murdering his driver, they reveal that he's a mobster with all kinds of criminal endeavors which they've recorded on tape. Deloris's only concern: "...quick question. Am I on any of the video tapes?"
  • Concert Climax: The movie ends with the choir performing for a packed church and, yes, The Pope.
  • Cool Old Lady:
    • Sister Alma may be old and deaf, but she sure can tickle that ivory.
    • Sister Mary Lazarus is pretty hip too. Despite her insistence upon how unhip she is.
    • Reverend Mother is more this in the second movie, after having gone through her character development.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Had Deloris waited a day to try returning Vince's wife's mink coat, she wouldn't have walked in on him murdering someone, which is what kicked off the plot.
  • Curse Cut Short: Deloris starts to say that the nuns' food taste like "shit"; Reverend Mother stops her by declaring a vow of silence.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Deloris has just walked in on her mobster boyfriend Vince executing his treacherous limo driver. When he cheerfully acts as if nothing is wrong, emphasizing that everything's fine, she quickly plays along and then leaves. He isn't fooled by her supposed complacence and tells his goons to "bring her back for a chat."
    Goon: And if she runs, then what?
    Vince: Take care of it.
    (hearing this, Deloris drops her things and runs)
  • Defrosting the Ice Queen: Over the course of Deloris’s stay at the convent, Mother Superior is able to let go of her highly traditional values and overprotectiveness and is able to appreciate more modern and young styles of worship. She even admits to enjoying the adventure of saving Deloris from the mob.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Deloris is disgusted by the bowl of gruel she is given as her first meal in the convent. The Reverend Mother responds by denying her any meals for a few days, and she resorts to stealing a tomato from the garden.
  • Do Wrong, Right: After calling the other nuns out for having an ice cream party without permission, calling it a sinful indulgence, Mary Lazarus then gets on them for not getting Butter Pecan.
  • Emergency Taxi: When Deloris was escaping from Vince's henchmen early in the movie, a cab was there just in time to aid her escape!
    Dolores: Now just go! Just go! Go! GO! GO!! GO!!!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Vince's henchmen 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 Joey and Willy uncomfortable and they even go along with her when she starts praying. Although he won't admit it, even Vince seems to have difficulty bringing himself to shoot Deloris while she's in a nun's habit, and his brief moment of stalling is just enough for the police to catch up to him.
    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?
  • Everyone Has Standards: At the beginning of the film, Deloris is carrying on with Vince knowing full well that he's married and is generally a smart-mouthed, unpleasant person. She's almost tempted to return to him when he tries to buy her off with a gorgeous mink coat...but then she finds his wife's initials in it. Even the opportunistic Deloris can't bring herself to do that—"You don't earn other people's wives' fur coats, OK?"— and declares that enough is enough. Unfortunately, this sudden pang of conscience makes her witness Vince murdering his chauffeur, and kicks off the plot.
  • 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). However, his coat of arms is clearly visible in the background hanging from the logia where he sits.
  • The Family for the Whole Family: Played straight with Joey and Willy; averted with Vince.
  • Fiery Redhead: Sister Mary Robert is a total aversion.
  • Fish out of Water: Deloris at first in the convent.
  • Foreshadowing: Shortly after Deloris goes into hiding, Detective Tate casually asks Souther where he "stashed" her and Souther refuses to tell him. Tate later turns out to be the "leak" that was giving away witnesses' hiding places, including Deloris' when he found out.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
  • Fur and Loathing: Vince tries to buy Deloris back by giving her a mink coat; Downplayed in the sense that it's not the fact that it's a fur coat, but the fact that it belongs to Vince's wife that makes Deloris reject it. Her rage at this and attempts to return it make her an eyewitness to a murder.
  • Gender-Blender Name: As with many (but not all) nun orders, all of the nuns are named "Sister Mary X", with X being a male saint's name. The only two exceptions are Reverend Mother, who is called only by her title, and the nearly-deaf pianist Sister Alma.
  • God-Is-Love Songs: Played with. Romantic songs such as "My Guy" are given new lyrics, focusing on religion rather than romance.
  • Gospel Choirs Are Just Better: A highlight of the film is Deloris turning her talents to direct the convent's choir. Despite being more at home with Vegas show tunes, she takes to the role with aplomb, transforming them into a hot Gospel choir. Significantly, this represents a turning point for everyone involved.
  • Groin Attack: Deloris does this to both of Vince's goons after a prayer.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Deloris herself working to free Sister Mary Robert from Vince's goons. She ends up shoving Mary Robert out of the moving car, choosing to save her (and by extension, the other nuns) rather than escape.
  • Hidden Depths: The main theme of the movie. Both Deloris and the nuns show it.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: The original state of the choir. Downplayed in part because having multiple voices doing it can somewhat hide the fakery but Sister Mary Patrick singing an octave higher than her vocal range (something that Deloris herself Lampshades) is a clear example.
  • Ignoring by Singing: Used by the Big Bad's lawyer when his client is blatantly discussing plans to have Deloris murdered.
  • I Lied: Reverend Mother says this after the monsignor reminds her of her "vow of hospitality to all in need." Bonus points for that being the lie, as she just didn't want to put up with Deloris.
    Reverend Mother: That is not a person you can hide. That is a conspicuous person, designed to stick out.
    Monsignor O'Hara: You took a vow of hospitality for all in need.
    Reverend Mother: I lied.
  • I'll Kill You!: When Lt. Souther sees Deloris Van Cartier (AKA: "Sister Mary Clarence") on TV, he's upset that Deloris is making no real attempt at hiding.
    Lt. Souther: I'm gonna kill her! I'm gonna kill her myself!
  • I'm Going to Hell for This:
    • Mary Lazarus believes sneaking ice cream into the convent is an indulgence, however...
      Sister Mary Lazarus: This is a sin, it's a wicked indulgence. [beat] Didn't they have any butter pecan?
    • Sister Mary Robert has a brief moment of panic at the idea of singing in front of the Pope.
      Sister Mary Robert: What if I forget the words?!
      Deloris: You'll go straight to hell. (beat) I'm kidding, I'm kidding.
  • Invisible President: The movie shows the Pope from behind as he listens to the nuns' concert. (It's clearly meant to be Pope John Paul II, as shown by his coat of arms.)
  • Kitchen Chase: After Deloris witnesses the murder, her getaway takes her through the casino's kitchen. It happens again during the climax, when she runs away from Joey and Willy (after a Groin Attack delivered during prayer), but rather than merely shoving her way through, knocking workers down, and causing all manner of messes, this time she is more careful and stops to make (brief) apologies whenever she can't avoid running into someone.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: 'Done after the climax when Deloris's ex, Vince, is about to be taken away.
    Deloris: I've got two words for you, Vince—
    Sister Mary Robert: Mary Clarence!
    Deloris: Bless you.
  • Locked Away in a Monastery: The movie presents a version with a modern theme. After witnessing a murder committed by her mobster ex-boyfriend, Dolores is sent to a convent where she poses as a nun as part of a witness protection program.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Monsignor O'Hara and the Reverend Mother are the only ones in the convent who know about "Mary Clarence's" true origins until Deloris gets snatched by the mob.
  • Lost in a Crowd: Double Subverted. Near the end of the film, Deloris 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.
  • The Mafia: Vince's Reno organization.
  • Magical Negro: Deloris, especially as the Token Black of the convent in the first film. This could be seen as an inverted Mighty Whitey trope, since Deloris is the protagonist (unlike most Magical Negro characters), and she takes over the choir by proving she is better at it than any other nuns.
  • Mighty Whitey: A racial inversion. Protagonist Deloris, played by Whoopi Goldberg, goes into hiding as a nun, and is the only black woman in the convent. She also ends up saving the choir by educating them on how to sing. On a larger scale, it's her who brings the neighborhood together in doing so.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The film opens with Deloris (about age nine) getting into trouble at a Catholic school for naming The Apostles as John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
  • Missed Him by That Much: When the convent's good deeds and efforts to clean up their neighborhood make the news, Vince's wife Connie is seen watching the story. She calls to her husband (who has his back turned while practicing billiards) to come see the "cute little nuns"; had Vince turned around a few moments earlier, he would have spotted Deloris.
  • The Mole: Detective Tate, a corrupt policeman informs Vince about where Deloris is hiding.
  • Monochrome Casting: The lack of Hispanic characters in both films, considering it is a Catholic environment in a Californian city, is pretty striking. The first film also lacks leading Black characters, besides Deloris herself and Lt. Souther.
  • My Nayme Is: 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.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Although Vince has difficulty deciding whether to kill Deloris in a nun's habit, he ultimately decides to do so anyway, aiming the gun point-blank at her as he does. He probably would have succeeded had the police not intervened at that exact moment.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: Invoked by the nuns during their rescue mission to Reno. They flood the casino in full habit, find Deloris, and then split up, knowing that since they're all wearing identical outfits, Vince and his goons won't be able to tell them apart.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever the deal was with "Buckwheat Bertha"...
  • Nuns Are Funny: Everything the nuns do is hilarious, either because of a display of naivete resulting from their sheltered lives, or because it's a mundane thing that you just don't expect a nun to do (dancing to a jukebox), or both.
  • Nun Too Holy: Deloris. Justified in that she's really a lounge singer and witness in a high profile court case who was sent to the convent by the authorities to protect her. But if it weren't for her party girl side, she'd have made a very good nun.
  • One-Steve Limit: Inverted. Each nun takes the name "Mary X," with "X" as a saint's name, usually male. Sister Mary Alma is the only exception. Justified in that this is a common practice for ordered nuns.
  • On Three: Shows up near the end of the movie, when Vince's goons are getting ready to off Deloris:
    Joey: Okay, we go one, two, three, shoot.
    Willy: Wait. We don't go one, two, and shoot on three?
    Joey: Get over there!
  • ...Or So I Heard:
    Sister Mary Lazarus: I'd rather sing than do anything.
    Sister Mary Patrick: It’s better than ice cream!
    Sister Mary Lazarus: It’s better than springtime!
    Deloris (as Sister Mary Clarence): It’s Better than Sex! [Beat]. No, no, I’ve heard.
  • Overt Operative: Not an operative per se, but Deloris van Cartier, a Reno lounge singer, is an essential witness in a mob case. In order to protect her life until the trial, she must hide in a convent. Her appearance when she first walks in prompts the Mother Superior to exclaim, "That is not a person you can hide! That is a conspicuous person, designed to stick out."
  • Parenthetical Swearing: When Vince is being taken away by the cops.
    Deloris: I got two words for you, Vince.
    Sister Mary Robert: [gasps] Mary Clarence!
    Deloris: ...Bless you.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Sister Mary Patrick. And it's genuine.
  • Pet the Dog: In the big chase through the casino toward the beginning of the film, Deloris knocks over a busboy but stops to make sure he's okay before continuing to run. Joey and Willy don't bother.
  • Prayer of Malice:
    • Played with during the climax. When the helicopter pilot refuses to fly the nuns to Reno, they pray, out loud and right in front of him in passive-aggressive fashion, that God will be kinder to him in his own hour of need than he was to them in theirs. They needle him by committee until he changes his mind.
    • Also played with in a very similar way with Deloris and Vince's goons. When they untie her to take off her nun's costume (as they "can't waste a nun"), she immediately falls to the floor and begins praying, begging God to forgive them for having to do Vince's dirty work. The men actually go along with it and cross themselves...and that's when Deloris uses her kneeling positions to whack them in their crotches and run off.
  • Pun-Based Title: The term "sister act" originally comes from vaudeville, referring to a performance by a group of biological sisters. Here, it's used to refer to nuns.
  • Reaction Shot: The scene in which the choir represents its new and improved self is full of these.
  • Recurring Extra: The four street girls who are first taking an interest in the church choir's new style are seen a few times. In the final sequence where the Pope comes to see the choir, the girls are well-dressed, rather than wearing their street clothes that they wore in their other church attendances.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Deloris, largely due to Whoopi Goldberg playing the part. (The producers originally didn't envision Deloris even being black; their first choice for the role was Bette Midler.)
  • Scream Discretion Shot: Deloris, upon seeing herself in a habit for the first time. "I look like a penguin!"
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Deloris' reaction upon hearing about the vow of chastity she's expected to follow while doing her time disguised as a nun. She's dragged back by Mother Superior.
  • Shout-Out: Look close at the back of the church in the final song of the first movie and you'll see The Blues Brothers in a rather familiar stance....
  • Shrinking Violet: Sister Mary Robert.
  • 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 in-universe "Stop Having Fun" Nun and her lesson is about how you can't shelter yourself away from the real world.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: A variation occurs when Deloris is invited to lead the convent in a blessing at her first dinner with them. Since she went to a Catholic school, she has some vague memories of various prayers and psalms, and ends up mixing them together, along with a priest's declaration in a wedding ceremony and the Pledge of Allegiance, of all things:
    Deloris/Mary Clarence: Bless us, O Lord, for these thy gifts, which we are about to receive...
    (Beat as she realizes she forgets how this prayer ends)
    Deloris/Mary Clarence: ...and...yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow food...I will hunger. We want you to give us this day our daily bread, the republic for which it the power invested in me, I pronounce us ready to eat. Amen.
  • Sound-Only Death: Ernie's execution. We cut to Deloris just before the gun goes off.
  • Straight Man: Mother Superior is this to a tee, with some snark to boot.
    Sister Mary Patrick: And what a lovely name, Reno!
    Reverend Mother: ...and Gomorrah!
  • 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. In the end, they ended up singing the first verse traditionally and then transitioning to the newer way.
  • Token White: Among the four street girls who are shown taking an interest in the church's choir, three are black girls, only one is white.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Deloris' character arc is essentially this. Exemplified best when she is running for her life at both the beginning and end of the film. During her first escape, she knocks people down and just runs. At the end, she stops to make sure they are all right, despite guns shooting at her.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: The film's cover of the Isley Brothers hit "Shout" that plays over the credits starts in D major, and then modulates a record-breaking FIVE TIMES, finally ending in G (just in time for Sister Mary Robert's verse).
  • Two Words: Added Emphasis:
    Deloris: I got two words for you, Vince.
    Reverend Mother: Mary Clarence!
    Deloris: (after a Beat) Bless you.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Vince blames Deloris for everything as he is being arrested:
    "I was good to you! We had a great thing! You sang in a hotel — badly! How can you betray me like this?! YOU ARE NOTHING!!"
  • Viva Las Vegas!: The beginning and end of the first movie are set in Reno, which is close enough. Reverend Mother isn't too impressed.
    Sister Mary Patrick: And what a lovely name, Reno!
    Reverend Mother: ...and Gomorrah!
  • Vow of Celibacy: Deloris is not pleased when she is informed of the requirements of being a nun by the mother superior.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Deloris gets two of them.
    • The first from the Reverend Mother, after the choir's performance of "Hail Holy Queen".
      Reverend Mother: Girl groups?! Boogie woogie on the piano?! What were you thinking?!
      Deloris I was thinking more like Vegas, you know? Get some butts in the seats.
      Reverend Mother: And what next? Popcorn? Curtain calls? This is not a theater or a casino.
      Deloris: Yeah, but that's the problem. See, people like going to theaters, and they like going to casinos, but they don't like coming to church. Why? Because it's a drag. But we could change all that, see? We could pack this joint.
      Reverend Mother: Through blasphemy? You have corrupted the entire choir!
      Delores: How can you say that? I worked my butt off with these women! They've given up their free time to do this, and they're good! I mean, sister, we could, we could rock this place!
      Reverend Mother: Out of the question! As of tomorrow, Mary Lazarus resumes her leadership of the choir.
    • The second was from Lt. Eddie Souther, after the convent get media attention, almost exposing Deloris hiding.
      (Lt. Souther sees the convent and Deloris, attempting to hide her face on the news)
      Lt. Souther: I'll kill her. I'll kill her myself!
      (Lt. Souther shows up at the next mass)
      Deloris: What are you doing here?
      Lt. Souther: How come I saw you on TV?
      Deloris: That was not my fault. These people just showed up. But it's been really good for the convent.
      Lt. Souther: You're supposed to be hiding out. Remember? Bullets flying through the air at you. Ring a bell?
      Deloris: Yes. But I can't talk about it now because I have a show in five minutes.
      Lt. Souther: Listen to yourself. This is not a career opportunity.
      Deloris: You don't have to tell me that. This would not be the place to begin a career.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Early in the film, Deloris and Vince get into a fight, and he tries to buy forgiveness with a luxurious (and clearly extremely expensive) mink coat. Deloris loves it, but discovers Vince's wife's initials on the pocket and realizes that he stole the coat from her. She could easily keep the furs—and her fellow singers even encourage her to do so, saying she's "earned it" for putting up with Vince for so long. But Deloris refuses: "I don't deserve it. I haven't earned it. You don't earn other people's wives' mink coats, OK?" It also prevents her from becoming an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, as we know that she has a degree of morality even when she's snarking.
  • Witless Protection Program: Justified, the main character under witness protection is found by the mob thanks to a mole working inside of police headquarters. The police know (or at least suspect) the leak exists, but it takes some time for them to find and plug it. Unfortunately, the mole finds the protagonist and reports her to the mob just before he gets caught. Also downplayed in that it takes most of the length of the film for the mole to find her in the first place.
  • Witness Protection: Deloris enters this in the first movie.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Deloris' reaction when Eddie wants her to disguise herself as a nun.
    Deloris: You must be out of your... You know what? I'm gonna go back and work this out with Vince. You're a lunatic! (Storms out of the church with Eddie trying to stop her) I'm not gonna be in no damn convent with these people! These people don't even have sex!


Video Example(s):


Sister Act- Pilot Prayer

These nuns are **absolutely not** employing this trope against this pilot.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / PrayerOfMalice

Media sources: