Sister Act
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // PG // $29.99 // November 6, 2001
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 30, 2001
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The Movie:

A light comedy that works well-enough thanks to an above-average plot and a performance from Whoopi Goldberg that is a bit more subdued than usual, "Sister Act" rounded up an enormous box office in 1992 - enough to produce a sequel a year later. The film stars Goldberg as Deloris Van Cartier, a Vegas lounge singer who witnesses a crime comitted by her boyfriend (Harvey Keitel). She goes on the run to the cops, who put her in the witness protection program.

Where she ends up, though, is definitely an unexpected location - a convent whose choir happens to need a little fixing, which, of course, she'll deliver by the end of the picture. There's little more to the story, which is simply Whoopi goes to a convent. Thankfully, although the writers really haven't contributed much in the way of great lines, Goldberg is able to give many of these moments a bit of a punch thanks to enjoyable comedic timing, even if the film's pace does start to become a little too long and the film itself eventually becomes repetitive.

Overall, "Sister Act" isn't without some considerable problems and slow points, but it does work more often than not, thanks to performers who decided to invest real energy in the dialogue and situations to make them considerably more lively than they were on the page.


The DVD

VIDEO: Many will be suprised and displeased to find that Buena Vista has presented "Sister Act" in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. The only explanation that I can think of for the title's not being anamorphic is that this was originally announced back when the studio was not presenting titles in anamorphic widescreen, delayed and simply never redone. I'll probably never know the exact reason, but I do know that the results come up short of expectations. The picture appears noticably a little on the soft side throughout the movie, with a few sequences looking slightly closer to being considered well-defined.

Aside from the slight sharpness, there are some instances of edge enhancement and slight traces of pixelation. Furthermore, the print used is not clean, either. Notice a scene early on in a classroom where quite a few minor marks and specks are visible. Although these don't pop up in such great number throughout the rest of the movie, there are occasions where slight wear is again evident.

The film's warm color palette was generally the most successful element of the presentation, as it generally appeared bright and nicely saturated, but occasionally colors did look slightly smeared. Black level remained fair, while flesh tones looked accurate. While not the worst anamorphic transfer I've seen, there are some considerable flaws and a nice, new anamorphic presentation might have helped.

SOUND: "Sister Act" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but one would hardly know it from listening to the track. Almost the definition of "comedy audio", the film's soundtrack stays completely within the front speakers, aside from some minor musical reinforcement from the rears. A more modern soundtrack would have likely been able to make more out of the singing in the Church, adding a more realistic "echo" to give a sense of space in the building and stronger sound use to really have the voices fill the room. Audio quality here is fine, but nothing special. The music comes through with decent presence and dialogue sounds clear and fairly natural.

MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus that essentially use film-themed images and cover art.

EXTRAS: 12 1/2 minute featurette "Inside Sister Act", music videos for "If My Sister's In Trouble" by Lady Soul and "I Will Follow Him" by Sisters as well as the film's theatrical trailer and other "Sneek Peak" trailers.

Final Thoughts: "Sister Act" isn't a great movie, but it's a nice crowd-pleaser, as the performances make more out of the material than it would otherwise have become. Unfortunately, Buena Vista's DVD isn't going to please many, with its average non-anamorphic picture quality and fairly unexciting audio and supplements. Fans may still want to pick this up anyways, but otherwise, it's probably more of a rental.



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