A lot of attention was heaped upon this film as it was the last for music icon Whitney Houston. She died shortly after completing the filming of Salim Akil’s (Jumping the Broom) Sparkle. After all that hoopla was looked beyond people realized that despite everyone’s best effort the film is a disaster. It was meant to be a tale of music and family ties, but it ended up being a poorly constructed and acted mess. Not a fitting tribute to a woman who deserved more.
Emma (Whitney Houston – The Preacher’s Wife, The Bodyguard) is a single mother in the 1960s. A strong woman who has made a success out of the dress shop she owns, Emma as a younger woman as a singer, but it did not go exactly as she had hoped. As such, Emma has warned her three daughters, Sister (Carmen Ejogo – Away We Go, Alex Cross), Dolores (Tika Sumpter – Salt, What’s Your Number?) and Sparkle (Jordin Sparks – first film), to stay away from the music industry. The pull is too strong, however, and the girls sneak out at night to perform at a local club.
Sparkle is especially talented as she writes all the songs. She does not feel comfortable in the spotlight, so Sister acts as the trio’s lead singer. Being in the forefront due to the great songs written by Sparkle, Sister gains the attention of big shot record producer Satin (Mike Epps – The Hangover, Resident Evil: Apocalypse). He and another up-and-coming young music manager, Stix (Derek Luke – Antwone Fisher, Captain America: The First Avenger) start the sisters off in the music world.
Unfortunately in this case mother knows best. The spotlight begins to shine too brightly on the sisters and begins to cause jealousy, temptation and instability. This close-knit family begins to fall apart.
Sparkle is a remake. It was an important movie in the black community. High hopes were placed upon the remake. Some changes were made in the making of this version.
Whitney Houston was good as the strict and religious mother of the three girls. It is eerie watching her knowing that she died soon after and that she is playing a character that is close to herself. Emma’s was chewed up and spat out of the music industry and while Houston was not exactly spat out she did suffer due to her immense talent. She was actually the perfect person to play the character.
As right as Whitney Houston was in the film is as wrong as Jordin Sparks was. While she does have a strong voice she does not have the acting chops required to carry the role. As a result of her weakness the film falters. It means that the film feels like a second class version of the Hollywood success Dreamgirls.
Houston is one of the few “right” things about this film. Though I have like most of the things that Mara Brock Akil has done. This time however she has written a script that is totally predictable. You know exactly what is going to happen in the end from the get go. Also the dialogue was quite stilted. Worse than that it was quite dull. That plus she does not have enough pain and struggle in a film that really required it to make us care more.
-Tribute to Whitney Houston
-A Dream Come True
-Previews of Men in Black 3, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Words