Nuns on the Run

No, it makes no sense to anyone. That’s why you have to believe it. That’s why you have to have faith. If it made sense, it wouldn’t have to be a religion, would it?

Year Released : 1990Nuns_on_the_run_poster
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Cast : Eric Idle, Robbie Coltrane, Camille Coduri, Janet Suzman and Robert Patterson

A few weeks ago I was cleaning out my room at my parents house. I figured that I moved out of there several years ago so I really should take some of my stuff so they can have more space. So after ploughing through the boxes, I stumbled across a few of my old VHS tapes and amongst them was one of my favourite films from my youth, “Nuns on the Run”.

I can’t recall when I first saw this film, but I was probably seven or so at the time. For those who haven’t read this site before, I am transgender and I think that this was the first example I saw in film of cross-dressing, so for me it is an important film in many ways. That being said, what I’ve learnt a lot in recent years is that stuff I liked when I was a kid isn’t necessarily as good as I remember it.

Now that I am 31 it’s very rare that I watch something from my youth and still enjoy it as much as I did then, and that extends to music as well. For example, also in the box was the album “Hooray for Boobies” by the Bloodhound Gang…….yeah…..I turned that off again after about 3 songs. It’s also disappointing with regards to films as well because just under a year ago I did a few reviews of films from the mid-90s, but virtually none of them got a positive review.

But the point is that because of the low amount of IMDB ratings, I saw this as a good opportunity to not only re-watch a film I used to love, but also review a film that isn’t from the last few years. Most reviews I post are for films only a few years old at most and I want to try to expand to a bit beyond the last few years, especially going into what I consider the golden age of films, the 1980s.

But anyway, here’s my review for “Nuns on the Run”


Brian (Idle) and Charlie (Coltrane) work for a mob boss called Case (Patterson). One day they start to become disillusioned by life in the mob and plan to leave, however, their plans are called into question when another gang member attempts to leave and ends up dead, but not before having told Case that Brian and Charlie want to leave too. Despite denying it when asked by Case, the boss decides to have Brian and Charlie killed in a job to steal money from a local Triad gang.

Whilst on the mission, Brian is warned by his love interest Faith (Coduri) that it’s a trap, so he and Charlie decide that it’s time to make a run for it with the money from the theft. Whilst running away they get desperate and run into a random door in order to hide. They are confused by their new surroundings until Charlie, a lapsed catholic, realises it’s a convent and that it’s the perfect place to hide.

The pair steal some traditional nuns garments and trick the head of the convent, Sister Superior (Suzman), into believing that they were due to transfer in. She believes them but doesn’t understand why they’re wearing old robes as opposed to the more modern and considerably more feminine clothing. Brian is mortified at having to dress like a nun until it is safe for them to go to the airport with their money, but Charlie talks him into continuing, but with the accident prone Faith entering the hospital and Case’s gang closing in, how long can they hide in the convent before they’re discovered?


Is it as good as it seemed in my youth?

I’m not going to lie, I sat and watched “Nuns on the Run” with a very different mentality to films that I normally review on this site. Normally I go in hoping that the film will be good but have a generally open mind, however, that wasn’t the case with “Nuns on the Run” due to having previously seen it numerous times. I really wanted to give this a very positive review, but having not seen it for what is at least 15 years, I won’t be in a hurry to watch it again.

It’s definitely not as good as I remember it being and falls very much into that category of things that were highly enjoyable when you’re younger, but not so much anymore.

Let’s start with the positives in the 92 minute run time, and despite feeling a bit rushed, the opening sections of the film do a great job of establishing the various characters. This ranges from Charlie and Brian’s desire to escape Case, whilst quickly showing you just how psychotic he is. You get to meet Faith early on and you get to know that whilst she is a likeable character and very genuine at heart, that to use an English phrase, she is as thick as pig shit. She is remarkably dumb and yes, I understand that she has a problem with her vision, but that doesn’t her to answer questions like an idiot.

For example…..

Faith : “They work for Mr Casey.”

Triad Member : “Mr Who?”

Faith : “No, Mr Casey!”

It’s frustrating in many ways but in many ways is a brilliant way of building the character.


That could have simply been an attempt to be funny, but when weighed up against other lines in the movie, it doesn’t compare. Coltrane and Idle both do an excellent job with the humour that their respective characters present, and there are genuine laughs throughout. For example;

Sister Superior : “We run a teacher training college for 18-22 year old girls. Do you have experience?”

Charlie : “Of 18 year old girls? Yes, plenty.”

However, even with the excellent parts of the script, the rest comedy does feel forced at times. For example, early on in the film Brian finds out that Faith gets paid to sleep and tell a university about her dreams, but when Charlie walks onto the scene and Brian is purposefully misleading about what she does (he hints that she is a prostitute), it is a chance that Charlie quickly jumps on to suggest that she’s worth five times more an hour than what he thinks she gets paid. However, I’m going to cut it a tiny bit of slack as this film was made 26 years ago, and film-making has changed a lot in that time.

I don’t think anyone outside of the British Isles would actually enjoy a lot of this film because it is very different from many mainstream films, and even for the time it was nothing like Hollywood films. For example, something that I’ve touched on a few times is that when an American film says “we’ve only got xxxxx seconds left”, times that by about three and that’s how long they actually have. “Nuns on the Run” doesn’t do that and it’s doesn’t mess the audience around. There is a bit where Charlie says that a bomb is going to explode in six seconds, and sure enough a bomb explodes.

Like a lot of British films, I think if you’re not British this won’t translate well at all, and films such as The Cottage are generally ignored because the brilliant jokes go over the heads of those that don’t get British humour.

And finally, I have to comment on this as there are unfortunately a LOT of errors that I noticed during the filming. For example, at one point Sister Superior is trying to convince Brian to teach a class about the Holy Trinity (a subject that Brian knows nothing about). He objects for around 20 seconds before a very elderly nun approaches and he questions “Why can’t she do it?” The elderly nun responds like she knows exactly what they’ve just been talking about, even though they’ve shown her to be a character that quite clearly can’t hear properly and she wasn’t even on screen when the conversation starts.

There aren’t any major mistakes in the film, but certainly enough to be noticeable and this, combined with the forced humour, does unfortunately bring you out of it a bit.




At the time it was made “Nuns on the Run” was probably a great example of the best that the British had to offer at the time, but the days of it being considered a good comedy are well and truly over. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly not a bad film and there are parts that I love, but as I was watching this to view it I found myself wanting to skip out certain sections.

If you’ve not seen it before then it might be worth a watch as there are some genuinely funny moments in there, and it’s also a chance to get to see one of the performances of Robbie Coltrane from before he became a worldwide name. However, if you’re not into British humour then I don’t think there’s much of a chance of you enjoying it as even though I’m British, I found some of it a bit tedious.

The average rating (at the time of writing) is 5.7 out of 10 on IMDB and I can’t really disagree with that.


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