Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit (1993)

One of the first original gospel musical comedies ever made and if you ask me - the best. This movie was filmed way before The Preacher's Wife (1997) and The Fighting Temptations (2003) and unfortunately existence of these movies have made gospel comedies like the original Sister Act 2 a clichĂ© for copying the idea of casting flawlessly singing R&B divas that will be "hired" to sing in a gospel choir in the manuscript. I don't know whether Sister Act 2 was the first gospel choir movie ever filmed with this idea but I surely will take note in my evaluation of this movie that later similar movies have been following which means that I'm seeing Sister Act 2 as The Original One at least until proved differently. I'll compare Sister Act 2 also to the first Sister Act.  

I didn't like the first Sister Act very much because I considered the music much worse than in this one and I even found the story line boring. As we remember, in the first Sister Act secular singer Deloris portrayed by Whoopi Goldberg had to be placed to hide in the monastery camouflaged as a nun because her gangster boyfriend wanted to kill her. Deloris ended up improving the sound of the nun choir as Sister Mary Clarence and bringing life to the community surrounding the monastery.
In Sister Act 2 they persuade Deloris to return as Sister Mary Clarence to become a music teacher who should "tame" a group of rebellious music students and save the school from closing down by attending with them a gospel choir competition in Hollywood. Unfortunately I found the jokes in both Sister Act and Sister Act 2 lame: they didn't make me laugh or smile at all. Both movies are of course entertaining but I consider Sister Act 2 livelier and more interesting and appealing to me than its predecessor because of the young blood and better music. Well, it isn't wonder that I'm seeing it this way because the gospel music sung in Sister Act 2 is soul and R&B oriented while Sister Act could only offer us more traditional gospel that we can hear at church any Sunday. The sparkle, the passion was missing in the music performances of the first movie but Sister Act 2 set it on whole another level: Top performances of the movie are of course young Lauryn Hill's performances; her freestyle solo on the school yard with the students (which I read from her biography having being completely improvised), "His Eye On The Sparrow" featuring Tanya Blount and of course  the closing performance of the movie "Joyful, Joyful" in which she performs as a soloist supported by the rest of the youth gospel group in the gospel choir competition in Hollywood. Also, the first actual gospel performance of the monastery's music class students at church, "Oh Happy Day" is candy to my ear.

In both Sister Act and Sister Act 2 the acting performances are of course generally great, extremely skilled, charismatic and eloquent - especially Whoopi Goldberg shines her light as an Academy Award winner and Maggie Smith comes up with elegant performances in both of the movies. When it comes to evaluating Lauryn Hill's actual acting performances they seemed effortless but not as groundbreaking as her music performances. Miss Hill's biography lets me understand that she used to be quite similar as a student herself as her character Rita Louise Watson but only more dedicated to her studies. Her biography stated that just like Rita she was a very popular student and a true group leader but less rebellious. In the movie Rita Watson is the most rebellious of the students and carries the biggest burden: Her deepest wish is to sing but her mother at first won't let her. When it comes to Lauryn's actual acting performances, just like BeyoncĂ© in the Fighting Temptations, she only must come out either sad, cool or attractive which is pretty basic level of acting. We also should remember that this was Lauryn's first major role in big screen and it later helped her to rise to fame with The Fugees. Other students in the class need even less effort in acting while they have few lines here and there and they must come up with different facial expressions.         

Grade: 8,5/10, because I consider this movie way better than The Fighting Temptations at least. The Fighting Temptations was clearly more of a music movie but Sister Act 2 is a seriously taken comedy as well with seriously taken, true actors such as Whoopi Goldberg herself and Maggie Smith. This movie was splendid because of the great acting performances and wonderful music performances. I have seen this movie now for a few times and I consider buying it whenever possible because this is doubtlessly one of my favourites. No matter how much I love Lauryn Hill's music I have to say that the Fighting Temptations is the winner of this comparison by its music performances but when it comes to acting performances, Sister Act 2 is much better and therefore I must grand a better grade to it in comparison. I consider Sister Act 2 as uplifting as The Fighting Temptations if I need something to cheer me up in the bad days.   

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