on 14 September 2013
SISTER ACT / SISTER ACT 2: BACK IN THE HABIT [1992/1993] [20th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD] [US Release] A Hilarious Divine Comedy! Back In The Habit!
To commemorate the 20th Anniversary of a comedy classic that packed pews everywhere, Disney proudly presents a special 2 Movie Collection, featuring `SISTER ACT' and `SISTER ACT 2: BACK IN THE HABIT,' for the first time ever on Blu-ray!
Academy Award® winner Whoopi Goldberg (Best Actress In A Supporting Role, ‘GHOST’ in 1990) stars as a sassy lounge singer forced to hide from the mob in the last place anyone would ever look for her in a convent and 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 Goldberg 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 bursting with '60s Motown hits. Relive all the fun and irresistible music of both movies with a stunning state-of-the-art digital restoration!
SISTER ACT Cast: Whoopi Goldberg, Isis Carmen, Dame Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy, Wendy Makkena (singing voice: Andrea Robinson), Mary Wickes, Bill Nunn, Harvey Keitel, Robert Miranda, Richard Portnow, Rose Parenti, Joseph Maher, Jim Beaver, Jenifer Lewis, Charlotte Crossley, A.J. Johnson, Lois de Banzie, Max Grodénchik, Joseph G. Medalis, Michael Durrell, Toni Kalem, Eugene Greytak, Al Finney (Dog), Guy Boyd (uncredited), Terriel Lara (uncredited), Ellen Albertini Dow (Choir), Carmen Zapata (Choir), Pat Crawford Brown (Choir), Prudence Wright Holmes (Choir), Georgia Creighton (Choir), Susan Johnson (Choir), Ruth Kobart (Choir), Susan Browning (Choir), Darlene Koldenhoven (Choir), Sheri Izzard (Choir), Edith Diaz (Choir) and Beth Fowler (Choir)
SISTER ACT 2 Cast: Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Najimy, Barnard Hughes, Mary Wickes, James Coburn, Michael Jeter, Wendy Makkena, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Robert Pastorelli, Thomas Gottschalk, Dame Maggie Smith, Lauryn Hill, Brad Sullivan, Alanna Ubach, Ryan Toby, Ron Johnson, Tyse Saffuri, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Devin Kamin, Christian Fitzharris, Tanya Blount, Mehran Marcos Sedghi, Pat Crawford Brown (Choir Nun), Hill Harper (Choir Boy), Erica Campbell (Competing Choir), Robby George Ryal (uncredited), Haakenson (uncredited), Bill Irwin (uncredited), Jason Menz (uncredited), Tanya Newbould (uncredited), David Ulmer (uncredited) and Terri J. Vaughn (uncredited)
Directors: Emile Ardolino and Bill Duke
Producers: Cindy Gilmore, Mario Iscovich, Scott Rudin, Teri Schwartz, Dawn Steel, Christopher Meledandri, Laurence Mark, Marc Shaiman, Ron Stacker Thompson and Scott Rudin
Screenplay: Joseph Howard, James Orr, Jim Cruickshank and Judi Ann Mason
Composers: Marc Shaiman and Miles Goodman
Cinematography: Adam Greenberg and Oliver Wood
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish
Running Time: 100 minutes and 106 minutes
Region: Blu-ray: All Regions and DVD: NTSC
Number of discs: 3
Studio: Touchstone / Walt Disney Video
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Hallelujah! 'SISTER ACT' and `SISTER ACT 2' is finally on Blu-ray! Why am I so excited? Well, because 'Sister Act' and `Sister Act 2' has all of the elements one looks for in an awesome 90s cinematic treat: singing, dancing, nuns, nuns singing and dancing, guns, Whoopi Goldberg! Seriously though, I really do have a soft spot in my heart for this film and to this day I still think it's pretty damn entertaining. Sure, some aspects of the production are a bit dated, but there is one big difference here, 'SISTER ACT' and `SISTER ACT 2' actually remains a genuinely hilarious funny films. Whoopi Goldberg is great in her iconic role, and the silly but creative premise leads to some solid laughs. I mean, just look at that cover. Whoopi Goldberg dressed in a nun's outfit wearing sunglasses and who are you to resist that!
After Whoopi Goldberg has witnessed a murder in `Sister Act' is ordered by her mob boss boyfriend [Harvey Keitel], a Reno lounge singer, Deloris Van Cartier [Whoopi Goldberg], goes on the run. Fearing for her life, she seeks help from the cops, who in their infinite wisdom decide to hide her somewhere the mob will never think to look, especially in a convent. Forced to pose as a nun herself, Deloris becomes Sister Mary Clarence. As she struggles to adjust to the nun lifestyle, she is asked to take over the church's struggling choir, but just as Mary Clarence starts to enjoy her newfound calling, old threats re-emerge.
Like many beloved high concept comedies from the 90s, the film features a wonderfully absurd but still not altogether unbelievable premise. The humour mostly derives from Goldberg's fish-out-of-water predicament, and watching her character struggle to deal with life as a nun is quite amusing. The culture clash leads to some great reactions and uncomfortable situations, and unlike some other similar efforts, the script actually makes the most out of the silly concept with a few inspired but never mean-spirited jokes that chronicle the choir's journey from total ineptitude to rock-god status. The writers also resist the urge to become too outlandish, and for the most part, the whole affair is treated with a suitable sense of realism.
Famous for its coupling of traditional choir music with pop sensibilities, the film is home to some fun "churched-up" renditions of classic tunes and remixed versions of standard hymns. Who could forget such toe-tappers like "Hail Holly Queen," "I Will Follow Him," or my personal favourite, "My Guy (God)?" Beyond their humorous novelty, the musical numbers really are well arranged and choreographed, and it's legitimately entertaining to see the nuns take to the stage to do their thing.
Much like the seven dwarfs, there's a nun for all tastes here, ranging from bashful to happy to grumpy to... Dame Maggie Smith. The entire ensemble, even the glorified extras actually, come to think of it, especially the glorified extras are all memorable and offer distinct personalities and quirks. While not all of the sisters get much on-screen development, or even dialogue, the core trio played by Kathy Najimy, Wendy Makkena, and Mary Wickes are given some decent material to work with. Covered up in their habits and robes, all we see of the actresses are their faces, but man, what faces! The expressions they make are hilarious, especially Dame Maggie Smith's repeated looks of horror in response to basically anything Goldberg says or does. Speaking of Whoopi Goldberg, she carries the picture with wit and class, and the film reveals some real heart as she starts to bond with her fellow sisters.
Of course, the true highlight here is an awesome montage sequence that showcases the nuns doing what nuns do best, namely feeding the homeless, running a day-care centre, painting over graffiti with more graffiti, jumping rope, and... fixing cars. You know, like nuns do. Are you starting to see why I love this film so much? Then there's the crazy climax that involves the whole convent invading a Reno casino while mobsters try to chase them down. The sister's scurry about the slot machines while perplexed gamblers and the movie-going public and look on in amusement. Sure, elements of the script are a little dated, tacky, and clichéd, but beneath the 90s kitsch, lies a surprisingly solid story with likeable characters and fun comedy.
Now, as to `SISTER ACT 2' film it also contains all of the elements one looks for in an awesome 90s cinematic treat (sans guns), and I love it just as much as the original film! In many ways, these two films perfectly demonstrate the all too fine line between slightly dated but still endearingly fun. To further this point, one need only look at both film's montage sequences. The first film's montage made me smile, both despite and because of its inherent cheesiness. The montage sequence in the second film, which focuses on Whoopi Goldberg teaching the kids how to sing while forcing them to repeatedly chant "la la la" over and over again in different variations and I personally feel it was a joyous experience and I hate people who complain that `Sister Act 2' is a poor substitute, but people are so cruel and will love this second film, while everyone makes out it is a rubbish follow up.
‘SISTER ACT 2: BACK IN THE HABIT’ isn't a complete disaster. Formulaic maybe, but it just takes Sister Mary Clarence and throws her into a comedy version of 'Stand and Deliver.' But despite so many negative views on this follow up film, I still love it and to have the 2 films in one package is a real bonus.
So, has `SISTER ACT' and `SISTER ACT 2' aged well in the twenty years that have passed since its release? Well, despite a few rough edges, the answer is a resounding yes! Yes, I say! It's not exactly a classic, though in my heart it always will be, but the films isn't just some forgettable catalogue title that stars Whoopi Goldberg dressed up as a nun. It's a memorable catalogue title that stars Whoopi Goldberg dressed up as a nun. There's really some decent filmmaking at work here, and the endearing cast sells the fun material. With a premise like this, the films could have gone either way, but thankfully Whoopi Goldberg helps steer the ship in the right direction, coming away with a sweet, funny little flick that still makes me chuckle. It might not be a must own title, but it's a damn good way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Both films are provided with a very agreeable 1080p transfer in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. While the single disc presentation might alarm some fans, I didn't detect any notable compression artefacts and both flicks appear to share the space just fine. With that said, there are some minor issues with the image that seem to stem from the source elements and original photography. The prints on both films are in a nice shape with only a few very minor specks here and there. Grain is present and natural looking throughout, but does fluctuate in degree from scene to scene, sometimes looking light and unobtrusive, and other times looking a bit heavy. On that same note, detail varies as well. The opening sequences in both films is actually quite impressive, with great clarity and depth and Whoopi Goldberg's sparkly sequined dress in the first film pops from the screen. Unfortunately, this level of detail and dimension is not consistent, and several other scenes offer a comparatively soft and flat look. Colours are usually nicely saturated, but can also look a bit faded. Whites are solid, but black levels waver with slightly murky shadow detail. `SISTER ACT' and `SISTER ACT 2,' always look pretty solid on Blu-ray. There are some impressive scenes in both films and I especially liked the glittering lights of Reno in the first film. But the presentation isn't always consistent. Still, the transfers in both films is seemingly authentic, and should please most fans, myself included of course.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Each film is presented with an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Serviceable, but a little disappointing, both films feature very similar mixes that suffer from the same front-loaded sound design and lack of immersion. Vocals and dialogue are clear and clean throughout. Unfortunately, the audio is very front centric and surround activity is never noteworthy. Some music and ambiance does bleed to the rears, but they add virtually nothing to the experience. Directionality across the three front speakers is decent, but the overall soundstage feels small and 'SISTER ACT 2' sounds a little more spacious. Thankfully, the musical numbers and score both come through well, with nice range, fidelity, and separation. Bass activity is marginal, but there is some slight low frequency response in some of the music. Balance between the various audio elements is handled well. While free of any major technical hiccups, I did detect some slight peeking in 'SISTER ACT' and also in 'SISTER ACT 2,' but nothing too upsetting. With little surround activity in both films, these 5.1 mixes aren't very enveloping. Still, the musical numbers in both films do sound pretty good, and while a livelier soundstage could have enhanced the experience, these mixes are still satisfying all the same.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Inside Sister Act [480i] [13:00] This is a pretty standard promotional look at the film's production with some cast and crew interviews and on-set footage. The film has inoffensive intentions are discussed along with details on the cast's singing abilities and lack of enthusiasm for their nun outfits. Brief and pretty superficial, there isn't a lot to get out of this.
Special Feature: Music Videos [480i] A music video for Lady Soul's "If my Sister's in Trouble" is included. An additional music video for "I Will Follow Him" performed by the cast that is included on the DVD copy of 'SISTER ACT.'
Theatrical Trailers [480i] Here we have Theatrical Trailers for each film that is only available on their respective DVD copies.
Finally, I'll have to admit it, a lot of my love for 'SISTER ACT' and 'SISTER ACT 2' is fuelled by nostalgia, but beneath its slightly dated exterior lays a genuinely funny and entertaining in both films. The 1080p transfers are both solid, and though serviceable, the audio mixes are a bit lacking, which might be too disappointing for many fans. Touchstone has decided not to bless this release with any substantial extras. While the films don't get the special edition treatment it deserves, both films still holds up well, but potential buyers are advised to ignore the unnecessary sequel that's regrettably slapped on the disc. As it stands, this is probably a release that will only appeal to fans, which I am a massive fan of these 2 films and get total enjoyment in repeat viewing and an honour to have these 2 fantastic funny films in my Blu-ray Collection, especially having the fantastic talented Whoopi Goldberg in both brilliant comedy classic films. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom