This is still a movie I can’t turn off whenever I flip past it on television. Whoopie Goldburg in Sister Act is Dolores Van Cartier, a lounge singer who witnesses a murder, so she goes undercover at a convent. (You know, that ol’ cliché.) Dolores, now Sister Mary Clarence, finds a way to fit in by taking over the choir, turning a bunch of seemingly tone-deaf nuns into a group that excites and reenergizes its struggling community.
Sure, the movie has its problems. As Nora Whelan writes for Man Repeller, a women-focused website, it becomes the job of Sister Mary Clarence, the lone Black nun, to better the situation of all the white nuns around her. But the good far surpasses the bad. Whelan writes:
For one, it passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. The cast, not entirely surprisingly for a group of nuns, barely seems to think about men at all (except for, to quote Deloris, “The Big JC”) … And while in 2018, the Bechdel test can feel like a pretty low bar, I still struggle to think of any other mainstream movie featuring both a Black woman in the top-billed slot and a supporting cast of middle-aged and significantly older women—meek women, fat women, handsome women, deaf women—who have distinct, non-sexualized personalities of their own.
If you love Sister Act, don’t miss its just-as-good-as-the-original Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, introducing young Lauryn Hill. (If you listen to her 30-second “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” duet with Tanya Blount without being moved, you might be dead inside.)
How to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Disney+