Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

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Sister Act 2:
Back in the Habit
A nun wearing sunglasses and red high heeled shoes.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBill Duke
Written by
Based onCharacters
by Joseph Howard
Produced by
CinematographyOliver Wood
Edited by
Music by
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • December 10, 1993 (1993-12-10)
Running time
107 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$38 million[2]
Box office$125 million[3]

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit is a 1993 American musical comedy film, directed by Bill Duke, and released by Touchstone Pictures. The film is the sequel to the 1992 film Sister Act, and is loosely based on the life of Crenshaw High School choir instructor Iris Stevenson.

The story sees Whoopi Goldberg reprising her role as Deloris van Cartier, as she finds herself coming to the aid of her nun friends who need her help to save her old school. Most of the original cast reprise their roles in the sequel, including Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy, Wendy Makkena, and Mary Wickes.[4][5]

The film was less commercially successful than its predecessor, and received generally negative reviews, but proved popular with fans of the first film.


Deloris Van Cartier has become a famous performer in Las Vegas since her time posing as a nun to hide from the mob, presenting an entire dinner show based on her experience. During her latest performance, she is reunited with her friends, Sisters Mary Patrick, Mary Robert, and Mary Lazarus, who are in the audience. They have come to Las Vegas to beg her assistance.

Deloris meets with another old friend, the Reverend Mother, who explains that the convent nuns now teach at the St. Francis Academy in San Francisco. Coincidentally, Deloris attended this school in her childhood. The school faces closure unless its reputation can be improved. The nuns ask her to reprise her persona as Sister Mary Clarence and become the new music teacher. She reluctantly agrees.

At the school, Mary Clarence meets the school's staff of friars, led by the humble but inept Father Maurice, and the diocese administrator, Mr. Crisp, who wants the school to close, so he may receive early retirement. She attends her first music class, meeting the rowdy teenagers, who attend the class with the expectation of receiving an easy "A". Mary Clarence butts heads with ringleader, Rita Louise Watson. Rita walks out when Mary Clarence informs the students that they will have to earn their grades. The other students stay to avoid failure. When they break into spontaneous, synchronized singing, Mary Clarence is inspired to turn them into a choir. Initially, the students are dismayed and object to her proposal.

Mary Robert overhears Rita's talented singing. She recommends that Mary Clarence convince Rita to return to class. Students, nuns and friars work to restore the school's decrepit music room, and the class begins to practice extensively. They perform "Oh, Happy Day" before the whole school, led by Ahmal, a talented vocalist. The nuns discover numerous trophies, revealing the school won the All-State Choir Championship multiple times in the past, and decide to enter them once again. Father Maurice allows it, as long as they raise the money themselves and each student has a signed parental permission slip.

Rita's strict but well-meaning mother Florence refuses to let her attend, believing a musical career is a dead end as her husband died trying to chase fame. However, Rita forges her mother's signature to attend, leaving an apology note for her disobedience, prompting Florence to drive to Hollywood to see the competition. Mr. Crisp discovers a magazine in the school library with Deloris Van Cartier on the cover. Recognizing her as Mary Clarence, he warns Father Maurice of the sham. The choir has already left for the competition, so the friars pile into their old van and race to confront Mary Clarence.

Backstage at the competition, the choir are intimidated by the other entrants and consider quitting, but Mary Clarence inspires them to persevere. The friars arrive, and Father Maurice decides to support the choir upon seeing their enthusiasm. The other friars trap Mr. Crisp in a closet to prevent him from interfering. The choir takes to the stage, Rita performing a solo before the choir perform an urban contemporary gospel rendition of "Joyful, Joyful", with hip hop choreography.

The choir wins the competition. Impressed with the performance, the school's local diocese agrees to keep the school open. To thwart Mr. Crisp, the Reverend Mother states that the competition entry was his idea, and that the diocese must have another "hot spot" position for him..."we cannot let such a prize bull be put out to pasture".

Rita and Florence make amends, while the choir learns Mary Clarence is actually a professional singer. They ask her if she is a Las Vegas showgirl, to which she claims she has never been such, but is a "headliner".

The end credits feature the film's cast performing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough".



Box office[edit]

The film was not as successful as Sister Act. It grossed $57.3 million in the United States and Canada[6] and $67.3 million internationally for a worldwide total of $124.6 million, against a $38 million budget.[3][7]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a 19% approval rating based on 37 reviews, with an average rating of 3.5/10. The consensus states: "Sister Act is off-key in this reprise, fatally shifting the spotlight from Whoopi Goldberg to a less compelling ensemble of pupils and trading its predecessor's sharp comedy for unconvincing sentiment."[8] On Metacritic it has a score of 38% based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[9] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[10]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times rated it 2 out of 4 and wrote "What's strange about Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit is that it abandons most of what people liked about the first movie and replaces it with a formula as old as the hills."[11] Brian Lowry of Variety wrote that it "Lacks the charm and buoyancy that made the first "Act" a mass-appeal hit."[12] Rita Kempley of The Washington Post called it "Shamelessly contrived pap."[13]

Ty Burr of Entertainment Weekly criticized the lack of originality but says "The recycling’s so cheerily blatant it almost short- circuits criticism" and "What saves the movie is a young cast with astonishing talent and energy: You respond to their high spirits more than to the hackneyed characters they play." He gave the film a B− grade.[14]

The film gained a strong following since its release and became a cult classic among fans. Director Bill Duke said about the reception: "The reviewers at that time could not really be linked to our communities or the message. As you know, the faces of the reviewers were very different than the viewers. So I was surprised, but not shocked, because they didn't get us at the time. They didn't get the message and did not relate on an emotional level."[15]


Goldberg was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance.[16]


The soundtrack album was released on November 23, 1993 by Hollywood Records, it reached #74 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart[17] and #40 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[18] charts and received a Gold certification from the RIAA for shipment of 500,000 copies on March 26, 1996.[19]

  1. Greatest Medley Ever Told – Whoopi Goldberg & The Ronelles
  2. Never Should've Let You GoHi-Five
  3. Get Up Offa That Thing/Dancing in the Street – Whoopi Goldberg
  4. Oh Happy Day – St. Francis Choir featuring Ryan Toby
  5. Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today) – Whoopi Goldberg & the Sisters
  6. His Eye Is on the Sparrow – Tanya Blount & Lauryn Hill
  7. A Deeper LoveAretha Franklin & Lisa Fischer
  8. Wandering Eyes – Nuttin' Nyce
  9. Pay Attention – Valeria Andrews & Ryan Toby
  10. Ode to Joy – Chapman College Choir
  11. Joyful, Joyful – St. Francis Choir featuring Lauryn Hill
  12. Ain't No Mountain High Enough – Whoopi Goldberg & Cast

The finale performance of "Joyful Joyful" was produced and arranged by Mervyn Warren, noted jazz and gospel musician who is best known as an original member of a cappella vocal group Take 6. The arrangement also includes rap lyrics written by Ryan Toby, and a bridge adapted from the chorus of Janet Jackson's 1986 single, What Have You Done for Me Lately.

Home media[edit]

The all-region Blu-ray, including both Sister Act and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, was released on June 19, 2012 with both films presented in 1080p. The 3-disc set also includes both films on DVD with the same bonus features as previous releases.[20]


When asked in 2013 about acting in a sequel, Whoopi Goldberg initially refused,[21] but by 2015 changed her stance to a maybe.[22] After a Broad City cameo, in 2016 Whoopi expressed doubts about a sequel based on missing cast members, but said she thought it would be fun and likeable.[23] In May 2017, she affirmed her desire for the third film to happen,[24] adding in July that she would like to direct it and had confidence it would be made.[25] On December 7, 2018, it was confirmed that Regina Y. Hicks and Karin Gist were hired to write the script to Sister Act 3 for a release on Disney+.[26] In December 2020, it was announced that Goldberg would be reprising the role of Deloris and serve as a producer alongside Tyler Perry.[27]


  1. ^ "SISTER ACT 2 : BACK IN THE HABIT (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. December 20, 1993. Archived from the original on October 14, 2019. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  2. ^ Jones, Vanessa (January 7, 1994). "'Sister Act 2' May Become Breakthrough For Filmmaker". Sun-Sentinel. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Top 100 grossers worldwide, '93-94". Variety. October 17, 1994. p. M-56.
  4. ^ Dutka, Elaine (December 5, 1993). "Back to School for Inspiration : How necessity and compromise turned 'The Iris Stevenson Story' – a drama about a passionately committed Crenshaw High School music teacher – into 'Sister Act 2'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
  5. ^ Billiter, Bill (December 9, 1993). "Chapman Choir Gets Its 'Sister Act' Together : Movies: Singers cast on short notice for the Whoopi Goldberg sequel. The experience is divine". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
  6. ^ "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
  7. ^ Fox, David J. (December 13, 1993). "Wayne, Garth Party On at the Box Office Movies: 'Wayne's World' sequel pulls in an estimated $14.2 million to push "Mrs. Doubtfire" into second place. "Sister Act 2" opens in third". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
  8. ^ "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  9. ^ "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit". Metacritic.
  10. ^ "SISTER ACT 2 (1993) A-". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  11. ^ "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit movie review (1993) | Roger Ebert".
  12. ^ "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit". December 10, 1993.
  13. ^ "'Sister Act 2' (PG)". December 10, 1993. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  14. ^ "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit". Entertainment Weekly.
  15. ^ David Dennis Jr (November 26, 2019). "How did 'Sister Act 2' become a classic musical?".
  16. ^ "MTV Movie Awards 1994". MTV. June 9, 1994. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  17. ^ "Top 200 Albums". Billboard. September 17, 1994. Archived from the original on April 20, 2014. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
  18. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums". Billboard. April 16, 1994. Retrieved May 29, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit". Gold & Platinum. Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
  20. ^ "Sister Act: 20th Anniversary Edition - Two-Movie Collection (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (1992)". Amazon. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  21. ^ "After Show: Is 'Sister Act 3' Happening?". October 28, 2014.
  22. ^ "Oh Happy Day: Whoopi Goldberg Says She Wouldn't Say No To "Sister Act 3"". December 17, 2015. That's not to say I wouldn't do it, but it feels like there's a new generation for Sister Act and so maybe I can be a nun now.
  23. ^ "Whoopi Goldberg on Weed, Being an Ally, & Sister Act 3". September 20, 2016. On Sister Act 3: WG: So many of my nuns are gone. I would love to do it, but we sort of sent it out on stage—world domination, it's in all these different countries. But should they ever make a three it would be lots of fun, I think people would like it.
  24. ^ "Whoopi Goldberg wants Sister Act 3 to happen". May 30, 2017.
  25. ^ "Whoopi Goldberg wants to direct Sister Act 3 and is confident the movie WILL happen". Digital Spy. July 19, 2017.
  26. ^ Kroll, Justin (December 7, 2018). "'Sister Act 3': 'Insecure' Executive Producer, 'Star' Showrunner to Write Sequel". Variety.
  27. ^ Jackson, Angelique (December 10, 2020). "Whoopi Goldberg to Return for Disney Plus' 'Sister Act 3,' Produced With Tyler Perry". Variety.

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