"Sparkle" Never Dazzles and Rarely Ever Shines Review

"Honey, you sing."

Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) pushes her sister, aptly named Sister (Carmen Ejogo), into singing her songs in 1968.  Emma (Whitney Houston) is her mother who had a rough time in the singing biz and doesn’t want her children following in her footsteps. But Sparkle meets and falls for Stix (Derek Luke) who wants to be a great manager.  Levi (Omari Hardwick) is interested in sister Sister, but she goes for Satin (Mike Epps), a semi-famous comedian, instead.  Sparkle, Sister, and a third sister, Dolores (Tika Sumpter) start a trio, but events conspire to push Sparkle into the limelight.

If these people are so good at singing, why can’t sing it live?  This is just one problem of many with respect to the musical numbers in Sparkle (2012).  One scene was just incredible.  Sparks is “playing” the piano and then stands up to sing.  But you can still hear the piano.  I laughed out loud.  A more consistent problem with the singing is that these ladies (and the songwriters)—clearly in the studio—didn’t do their homework.  Singers today gild the lily with their excessive licks.  It’s almost impossible to understand what it is their singing.  They didn’t sing like that.  As for the songs, they are mere echoes of the style of the time.

The team behind this made some serious mistakes.  As for director Salim Akil, why talk about the riots?  Show us.  That would have instantly upgraded the quality of this movie with some context.  There were moments that showed some ability to work with effects, but Akil was never consistent.  As for editing, it’s a bit of a joke.  The screenplay by Mara Brock Akil (story by Joel Schumacher and Howard Rosenman) is also loaded with pathetic dialogue. (P.S. This is a remake of Sparkle (1976).)  And the story is so soapy.  Much like a soap, the characters have incredibly short memories.  One day, Sparkle only wants to be a backup, day two Sparkle’s upset that Stix tries to get Sister to be the lead singer. 

These complaints are not going to get in the way of fans.  These are talented singers singing catchy tunes.  As a vehicle for that kind of performance, it has above average acting and story.  In fact, there are moments where Mike Epps and Derek Luke were actually quite good.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

Commentary from Salim Akil, A Tribute to Whitney Houston, “A Dream Come True: Bringing the Story to the Big Screen” (a lengthy featurette with many interviews), “Sparkle & Shine—Meet the Cast” (featurette on the cast), “A Sparkling Performance – Music, Choreography and Costumes”, “Celebrate” Music Video, Extended performance on “Hooked on Your Love”, and previews (Men in Black 3, Searching for Sugar Man, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Words).

"Sparkle" is on sale November 27, 2012 and is rated PG13. Drama. Directed by Salim Akil. Written by Mara Brock Akil, Joel Schumacher, Howard Rosenman. Starring Carmen Ejogo, Derek Luke, Jordin Sparks, Mike Epps, Omari Hardwick, Tika Sumpter, Whitney Houston.

Jason Ratigan • Staff Writer

A lawyer-turned-something-else with a strong appreciation for film and television.  He knows he can't read every great book ever written, but seeing every good movie ever made is absolutely doable.  Check out his other stuff on Wordpress.


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