Sparkle is a remake of the 1976 film of the same name, and this Detroit-filmed version is especially notable for its cast. Sparkle is the last film starring Whitney Houston, as the singer passed away after in February 2012. It’s also the first film starring American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, so there’s a lot of pressure for this film to succeed at the box office. Luckily, the singing in it is fantastic, and although the film is a little lengthy (about 2 hours long), it tells an interesting story.
Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) has two sisters, Sister (Carmen Ejogo, Away We Go) and Dolores (Tika Sumpter, Think Like a Man), and they are all great singers. Sister (whose real name is Tammy) is the “showman” of the three, and with the help of Stix (Derek Luke, TV’s Hawthorne), their manager, they form a girl band, with Sister as the lead singer and Sparkle and Dolores on back-up. Their mother, Emma (Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard), disapproves of their singing, as she tried to have a singing career when she was younger but failed. Sister has a boyfriend but quickly attracts the attention of a TV celebrity, Satin (Mike Epps, Jumping the Broom), and falls into a tumultuous and violent relationship with him. Sparkle and Stix have an off-and-on relationship, but when the group falls apart due to Sister’s drug addiction (which is the fault of Satin, for the most part), Stix wants to move to California, since he’s “done with Detroit.” Sparkle, who also writes original songs, must decide if she has the courage to become her own act, and sing her own songs on stage.
If I was reviewing this movie on the singing itself, it would get 5 out of 5 stars. Curiously, Sparks’ singing isn’t utilized much, until the very end, when she takes the stage on her own, and we see the depth of her abilities. Houston sings solo in a few scenes, and they are bittersweet moments when you remember she’s no longer with us, as she’s a fantastic singer. Carmen Ejogo, as the main showrunner at first, is great, and so is Tika Sumpter as Dolores, who is in the group to earn money so she can attend medical school.
Yes, see this film. In the scenes where there wasn’t any singing, the film did drag a little bit, but that might have been because it could have had a shorter runtime. I was surprised that Whitney Houston hasn’t really done any movies since the late ’90s, because she was great as the girls’ overprotective mother, who didn’t want them to fall into the same scenario that she had lived through, where she didn’t make it and also turned to drugs and alcohol; in one scene, she snaps something like “Wasn’t my life enough of a cautionary tale for you?” I was also surprised that this was Jordin Sparks’ first film, as she is a natural actress; I hope to see her more on the silver screen in the future.
Sparkle is in theaters today, August 17th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 116 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.
Liz is a University of Michigan graduate with a degree in Creative Writing and Literature, and she loves going to the movies. She is the owner and writer of a film website, Yes/No Films, which was started in January 2010, and she also is a guest movie reviewer for several other web sites. Liz writes book reviews for blogher.com and on her own book blog. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her @yesnofilms.