WE 'RE NO ANGELS (1989) - Movie Review

Author : Kumaran Shanmugam


WE 'RE NO ANGELS (1989) - Hilarious comedy prison movie - Review by Kumaran Shanmugam

Dear friends, This is one of the old movies I had the luxury of watching uninterrupted about five years ago in my clinic due to light patient load on account of a Hindu festival. This movie is set in the great depression era of the 1930s.

The movie starts in the New York prison Complex where the main protagonists Ned and Jim are subjected to harsh punishment by the ruthless warden. When a hardcore criminal and murderer Bobby is being paraded along with other convicts to the electric chair he escapes and in the pandemonium and mayhem, Ned and Jim gets mixed up with Bobby and all three escape from the prison.

The escapees travel overnight and reach a small town in the US Canada border. Bobby disappears from the scene. Ned and Jim keep a low profile and stay Undercover witnessing the state police fervently searching the border for the ecaped Convicts especially Bobby. Buy Twist of Fate Ned and Jim are mistaken for two senior priests who were supposed to visit a monastery in the town. The convicts under the masquerade of priests escaped the prying eyes of the police but struggle to perform their unaccustomed role as priests. The lack of experience in priesthood showed in their awkward demeanor and responses to routine decorum of priesthood evoking laughter from the audience.


Throughout the movie, their antics to sincerely mask their identities are ignored by the devout monks who considered their peculiarities as normal eccentricities associated with senior monks. Some of the monks even try to imitate the manners of the convicts which often evokes peals of laughter in the movie hall. The scenes of Ned frantically trying to break the ankle cuffs in his legs and one of the young devout monk trying to imitate the clothespin in the collar act which was actually the clothespin attached to the stolen dress worn by Jim trains the minds of the audience into laughter therapy. Meanwhile, Ned develops a liking for a local lady who is actually a laundress by day and a prostitute by night. Similarly, a young Monk played by John .c.reilly becomes a devout follower of Jim always religiously wearing the clothespin on collar.

The convicts continue to entertain the audience by their unconventional methods to behave as monks and the acceptance of their antics by the monastery without suspicions. Unable to continue this monkhood act the convicts look for chances to escape from the monastery. Opportunity knocks the doors at the right moment as a special procession tour to a sister's Church across the border is scheduled. The convicts spring on this chance and join the procession.

Molly's deaf-mute daughter accompanies the Monks. Bobby who hides in the procession is exposed and killed by the police. During the procession, the deaf-mute daughter of Molly is accidentally drowned and Ned rescues her. During the rescue act, Molly's daughter regains her voice and hearing and Ned is revered for this miraculous act. At the end of the film, Jim stays back in the monastery along with his devout disciple the young Monk. Ned leaves the monastery to live with Molly and her daughter in Canada.

Robert De Niro as Ned and Sean Penn as Jim play the role of convicts masquerading as monks to perfection and entertain the audience with their unintentional antics bringing loads of Laughter in the movie hall.

Directed by Neil Jordan
Produced by Art Linson
Written by David Mamet
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography Philippe Rousselot
Edited by Mick Audsley
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
December 15, 1989
Running time101 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20,000,000 (estimated)
Box office $10,555,348 
Robert De Niro as Ned
Sean Penn as Jim
Demi Moore as Molly
Hoyt Axton as Father Levesque
Bruno Kirby as Deputy
Ray McAnally as Warden
James Russo as Bobby
Wallace Shawn as Translator
John C. Reilly as Young Monk

Please don't overlook and miss the opportunity to see this hilarious comedy


Dr Kumaran Shanmugam

WE 'RE NO ANGELS (1989) - Trailer


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