MOVIE REVIEW: Sparkle (2012)

Zirconia Alleyne

Filmed by Sony Pictures

Written and Directed by Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil

The highly-anticipated remake of the 1950s Harlem-based “Sparkle” is the perfect girls-night-out movie date. It was everything I expected it to be. Filled with toe-tapping Motown jams and a few new records penned by R. Kelly, the 2012 “Sparkle” payed homage to the original version, but had its own identity.

Set in the late 1960s, the movie shows three stardom-hungry sisters who live in Detroit with their over-bearing, Bible-toting mother (Whitney Houston). The girls form a group called “Sister and Her Sisters” and sneak out at night to perform at bars and night clubs.

The main character, Sparkle, played by American Idol season six winner, Jordin Sparks, is an innocent mama’s girl, but writes songs that would make any man swoon. Her performance as Sparkle is believable yet safe at the same time. The song-writer’s confidence grows when the group’s up-and-coming manager (Derek Luke) takes interest in her; however, she doesn’t fully develop until the last 20 minutes of the two-hour flick.

Her sister (Carmen Ejogo), who is literally called Sister, oozes sex appeal and is the crooner of the group. Her drug-infested love affair with a popular comedian (Mike Epps) is the most dynamic of all. Both have internal demons that move the story line along. An unexpected turn of events cause Sparkle and their third sister, Dolores (Tika Sumpter), to follow their dreams. Dolores goes off to Meharry Medical College to become a doctor while Sparkle finds her voice and independence as a soloist.

Above all, the most noteworthy scene was Houston singing “His Eye is On the Sparrow” during a church scene. The pureness of her voice moved me (and several other people in the theatre) to tears. It was the perfect swan song for the deceased singer/actress.

The movie has received so-so reviews from acclaimed critics, but from an average viewer’s perspective, Sparkle was definitely a refreshing treat of stellar vocals, drama, and a chance to see Houston light up the screen one last time.