Directed by Salim Akil
Screenplay by Mara Brock Akil
Story by Howard Rosenman
Stars: Jordin Sparks, Whitney Houston, Carmen Ejogo, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick and Curtis Armstrong
The 1976 version of Sparkle is a cult classic in the African American community. I have heard of that film was a rip-off of Dreamgirls, but without Sparkle there would be no Dreamgirls, no Sheryl Lee Ralph, no Loretta Devine nor Jennifer Holliday. I saw this film with my family. The last time that I saw a movie with my family was The Princess and the Frog. Besides I wanted to see the final performance of the late Whitney Houston. The movie felt like a bad after school special.
Making her big screen debut Jordin Sparks plays the titular Sparkle, a shy girl living in 1960s Detroit with her sisters, wild child Sister (Ejogo) and sassy Dee (Sumpter). They live with their strict mother, Emma (Houston) who was a failed singer back in the day. What Emma doesn't know is that the girls have been sneaking out of the house to perform in various clubs where Sparkle write the songs and Sister sings them. They might an ambitious manager named Stix (Luke) who wants to encourage Sparkle to share gifts and not fade into the background.
Being that I had a big meal before seeing this movie did not help matters. I was yawning a bit through it.. The movie felt like it lacked that pizazz. There were some moments that felt very contrived and forced. I love Jordin Sparks as a singer. She could sang, but being an actress is not her forte. It was like she didn't have any emotion to her character. Carmen Ejogo looked like Beyoncé from that Countdown video. I was very distracting.
The movie felt up and down with the movie. The good parts were the actual songs sung in the movie. That got my attention. Being that it was the very last performance of Whitney Houston, I thought she did a good job as the strict God-fearing mother here. There was a scene at the dinner table that got me. Another than that, I would suggest just getting the soundtrack.