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‘Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit’ (PG)

By Joe Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 10, 1993

IF THERE'S ANYTHING good to be said for "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit," it's that this shoddiest of sequels should be the last act for these sorry Sisters.

A crass and confused cash-in on the inexplicable success of last summer's "Sister Act," "Sister Act 2" is utterly lacking in the silly, sassy spark -- and even skimps on the sunny, semi-sacrilegious girl-group hymns -- that made the original a smash. Star Whoopi Goldberg, who once again dons the basic black-and-white, looks cranky and peevish throughout, but drags the movie along singlehandedly on sheer attitude.

The plot doesn't even make sense if you've seen the first movie, but here goes: Goldberg tears through a tacky (and badly filmed) R&B medley in a Vegas act, seen by three adorable nuns. They tell Goldberg that the Sisters of St. Catherine's are in charge of a run-down inner-city school in San Francisco; they need her to put some pizazz in their music program. Apparently, she owes them one (she hid out in the convent while on the lam from the Mob in the first "Act," remember?), because she agrees. Soon she's in nun drag and meeting her class from hell, who are rapping and swapping "yo' mama" jokes.

With evolutionary slowness, "Sister Act 2" mutates into a lost episode of the "Kids From Fame," and then transforms again into the adventures of the Von Rap Family singers as Whoopi and the kids try to save their school from becoming a parking lot while attempting to win the state choir competition.

Foremost among the sins in Bill Duke's unprecedentedly inept direction is an unforgivable waste of good actors -- Maggie Smith, James Coburn and Michael Jeter among them. Even Kathy Najimy's radiantly giddy Sister Mary Patrick rarely registers.

SISTER ACT 2: Back in the Habit (PG) -- Area theaters.

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