Release Date: August 17, 2012
Director: Salim Akil
Stars: Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, Whitney Houston
Runtime: 116 min
Tagline: Celebrate the legend
Sister and Her Sisters? More like the Hussy and Her Sisters.
Sparkle is a performing arts drama set in the 1960s. It follows three sisters: Sparkle (Jordin Sparks), Sister (Carmen Ejogo) and Dolores (Tika Sumpter) who mend a girl group and they soon become local sensations with major label interest, but fame brings turmoil and further struggle to the tight-knit family.
Sparkle is a fully mediocre story that simply borrows its delightful concepts from other, better films. It may be filled with clichés and owns a very predictable premise, but it is thoroughly entertaining, and I never found myself bored. However, I did find myself fairly irritated at some points in the film.
While Sparkle is the titular character, for a good majority of the flick, she does not feel like the focal point. She is mainly a reserved character who wants her music to be heard, but she is much too timid to sing them herself. The band’s manager, Stix (Derek Luke), is one character who wants her to break out of that shell. And because of all of this, Sparkle is merely placed as a background singer – and subsequently, a usual background character (with the exception of the last twenty-five minutes, or so) since she is often drowned out by waves of sub-plots.
There is a sub-plot also worked into Sparkle’s character; she does not believe in herself, but partly due to the fact that her mother (Whitney Houston, in a great last performance) does not believe in her either. The mother almost had a music career when she was younger, but it ultimately failed. She does not want to see her daughters go down that same road, but she doesn’t know of their constant sneaking out for the majority of the film. There’s a petite sub-plot of Dolores (a.k.a. Dee) only joining the music group to make enough money to go to Medical School.
However, the largest sub-plot (and really, the main plot point) is Sister’s wrestle with fame. She is also one of the main reasons of the family’s struggle. She is a character that is so enveloped by the fame of it all, that she cannot see a good man who cares for her right in front of her eyes, and one who will care for her, Levi (Omari Hardwick). Instead, she chooses the incredibly lame and annoying comedian, Satin (Mike Epps). He leads her down a road of drugs and physical and mental abuse (like no one’s heard that story before). Basically, the characters of Sister and Satin affected my enjoyment of the film. I may have never been bored, but those two characters made me feel a certain loathing. Also, they made me feel skeptical to opening up to any other characters.
Sparkle is a mediocre and average performing arts drama. It is entertaining, but it isn’t anything memorable or special. It has a great debut performance from Jordin Sparks and a great last performance by Whitney Houston. The characters of the mother, Sparkle, Stix and Dee are great; but the characters of Sister and Satin are not easy to appreciate. It’s a predictable ride, but it is nonetheless a fairly good, but forgettable, one.