Sisters Mary Patrick, Mary Lazarus and Mary Robert attend the final performance of Deloris van Cartier at a Las Vegas theater, depicting her escapades at the nuns' convent in the previous film. Afterwards, the Sisters ask Deloris for her assistance. Reuniting with the Reverend Mother, Deloris learns the nuns now work as teachers at St. Francis School, a school Deloris herself had attended, which is facing closure if the administrator Mr. Crisp convinces the local diocese to agree. Deloris agrees to help teach the music class, once again taking on her persona as Sister Mary Clarence. She meets the monks who also work at the school, including principal Father Maurice, math teacher Father Ignatius, grouchy Latin teacher Father Thomas, and the cook Father Wolfgang.
Mary Clarence attempts her first lessons in the music class, finding the students unruly and rude. Among the students is the ringleader Rita Watson; preachy Ahmal; rap artist Frankie; Sketch, who sleeps a lot due to heavy work; and fashionable Maria. Upon learning the school will close at the conclusion of the current term, Mary Clarence rallies the nuns and monks to find a way to improve the school to keep it open. Like Reverend Mother before him, Father Maurice finds himself in conflict with Mary Clarence and her unconventional ways, but Reverend Mother reassures Father Maurice that Mary Clarence's presence will help.
Mary Clarence properly takes control of her class, prompting Rita to walk out. When the class breaks out in spontaneous singing, showing their true potential, Mary Clarence decides to turn the class into a choir. At first, the class is skeptical, but change their minds when the nuns perform in front of them, and when they are shown the school's old music room.
When Mary Robert finds Rita singing before a friend, she and Mary Clarence convince her to return to classes. The class rebuilds the music room and becomes a successful choir under Mary Clarence's guidance, with Rita returning to become a lead singer alongside Ahmal. The choir performs before the school and receives a standing ovation. After the nuns find trophies revealing the school had won the state choir championship before, they and Mary Clarence enter the choir in the competition, with Father Maurice's reluctant permission. However, Rita's strict mother Florence refuses to let her daughter attend, believing a career in music to be a dead end. Rita rebels, forging her mother's signature on the parental consent form to follow her dreams, leaving her mother an apologetic letter. Shortly after the choir leaves, Mr. Crisp discovers Mary Clarence is no nun and convinces Father Maurice to withdraw them from the competition. They race after the choir with the monks, hampered by Father Thomas's reckless driving.
At the championship, the choir is intimidated by the competition and considers quitting, but they change their mind after Mary Clarence sternly lectures them, reminding them how far they have already come. Father Maurice appears to inform the choir of his decision, but, surprised by the choir's robes, changes his mind and allows them to go onstage. The other monks lock Mr. Crisp in a closet to prevent him from revealing Mary Clarence's true identity to the representatives of the diocese who had come to the competition. Rita arrives onstage, briefly getting stage fright when she spots her mother in the audience, but leads the choir into a modern, hip-hop-inspired rendition of Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee. The choir ultimately wins the championship, and the diocese representatives, impressed by the choir's performance, allow the school to remain open. They even give the shocked Mr. Crisp a promotion (against his wishes) when Reverend Mother makes it look like he came up with the idea to attend the competition.
Rita's mother then comes after the show to tell Rita that she was wrong, and that she is proud of her daughter's performance. The choir confronts Mary Clarence about being a "Las Vegas showgirl." Mary Clarence responds, "I am not now, nor have I ever been, a 'Las Vegas showgirl.' I am a headliner."
- Whoopi Goldberg - Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence
- Kathy Najimy - Sister Mary Patrick
- Barnard Hughes - Father Maurice
- Mary Wickes - Sister Mary Lazarus
- James Coburn - Mr. Crisp
- Michael Jeter - Father Ignatius
- Wendy Makkena - Sister Mary Robert
- Sheryl Lee Ralph - Florence Watson
- Robert Pastorelli - Joey Bustamente
- Thomas Gottschalk - Father Wolfgang
- Maggie Smith - Reverend Mother
- Lauryn Hill - Rita Watson
- Brad Sullivan - Father Thomas
- Alanna Ubach - Maria
- Ryan Toby - Ahmal
- Ron Johnson - Sketch
- Tyse Saffuri - Choir
- Jennifer Love Hewitt - Margaret
- Devin Kamin - Frankie
- Christian Fitzharris - Tyler Chase
- Tanya Blount - Tanya
- Mehran Marcos Sedghi - Marcos
- Pat Crawford Brown - Choir Nun
Although not as successful as Sister Act, it still grossed $60 million in the United States and nearly $100 million worldwide. The movie also attracted a much younger audience towards gospel music as well as helping to boost the musical career of actress Lauryn Hill.
Sister Act 2 has historical significance as the first Hollywood blockbuster sequel headed by an African-American film director, Bill Duke.
It was also a breakout role for several young performers:
- Singer/actress Lauryn Hill, who would go on to greater fame with The Fugees and as a solo artist.
- Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt, who became well known for her later roles in movies and television (Party of Five, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Ghost Whisperer)
- Singer Ryan Toby, who went on to be part of the musical group City High.
The film is popular for its (often altered) gospel songs and R&B classics and soul versions of church hymns. These songs include:
- Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (also partially in Diana Ross's style at the end)
- Martha & The Vandellas - "Dancing in the Street"
- The Supremes - "Stop! In the Name of Love"
- "Joyful, Joyful" (an interpretation of Henry van Dyke's "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee". The choir's version features a rap break and an interpolation of Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done for Me Lately" and Naughty by Nature's O.P.P.)
- The Edwin Hawkins Singers - "Oh Happy Day."
- His Eye Is on the Sparrow
- "Barbara Allen" and "In the Still of the Night", performed by the musical group Rock Theatre.
Aretha Franklin scored a worldwide hit single from the film's soundtrack with "A Deeper Love," featuring a backing vocal by Lisa Fischer.
The soundtrack album reached #74 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart and #40 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts and received a Gold certification from the RIAA for shipment of 500,000 copies on March 26, 1996.
Whoopi Goldberg's own daughter, Alex Martin, played one of the classroom kids in the movie.
Thomas Gottschalk earned his role as Father Wolfgang by winning a bet against Whoopi Goldberg on his German entertainment show Wetten, dass..?.
- Greatest Medley Ever Told - Whoopi Goldberg & the Ronelles
- Never Should've Let You Go - Hi-Five
- Get Up Offa That Thing/Dancing in the Street - Whoopi Goldberg
- Oh Happy Day - St. Francis Choir featuring Ryan Toby
- Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today) - Whoopi Goldberg & the Sisters
- His Eye Is on the Sparrow - Tanya Blount & Lauryn Hill
- A Deeper Love - Aretha Franklin
- Wandering Eyes - Nuttin' Nyce
- Pay Attention - Valeria Andrews & Ryan Toby
- Ode to Joy - Chapman College Choir
- Joyful, Joyful - St. Francis Choir featuring Lauryn Hill
- Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Whoopi Goldberg & Cast
DVD and Blu-ray releases
The all-region Blu-ray including both "Sister Act" and "Sister Act: 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.
- Musical revivals including Sister Act: Back In The Habit are discussed on Broadwaysted a podcast produced by the Broadway Podcast Network.
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