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DVD Review: Sparkle

December 4, 2012

Sparkle DVD CoverSparkle – A Sony Pictures’ Release

DVD Release Date: November 30th, 2012

Rated PG for violence and mature themes

Running time: 116 minutes

Salim Akil (dir.)

Mara Brock Akil (screenplay)

Joel Schumacher (story)

Howard Rosenman (story)

Salaam Remi (music)

Jordin Sparks as Sparkle

Carmen Ejogo as Sister

Tika Sumpter as Dolores

Whitney Houston as Emma

Derek Luke as Stix

Mike Epps as Satin

Our reviews below:


Sparkle DVD Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Starting in 1968, Sparkle follows Sister (Carmen Ejogo), Delores (Tika Sumpter) and Sparkle (Jordin Sparks), three young adult siblings who dream of making it big in the music world, despite the discouragement of their Mama (Whitney Houston) who doesn’t want them repeating her same mistakes.  Their singing group is managed by nice guy Stix (Derek Luke), but things start to fall apart when Sister becomes involved with an arrogant comedian named Satin (Mike Epps).

The film boasts the last on screen performance of the great Whitney Houston before she sadly passed away this past February, and she is very good here.  As a whole, Sparkle unfortunately can’t entirely live up to her promise, with a largely unfocused screenplay that becomes a little too melodramatic in the last half as well as an overlong running time of 116 minutes.  But there are some good moments courtesy of the fine cast and the musical numbers are all quite strong, so fans of Whitney Houston should still check out Sparkle as a rental.

The DVD includes commentary with director Salim Akil, a “behind the scenes” featurette, as well as a tribute to Whitney Houston which features about twenty minutes of cast interviews.


Sparkle DVD Review By Erin V.  

** (out of 4)

A remake of a film from 1976, Sparkle is about a young woman named Sparkle (Jordin Sparks), who is striving to find the courage to follow her dream of becoming a singer in the Motown era.  At first she is writing songs that her sister, Sister (Carmen Ejogo), sings as she and her other sister Dolores (Tika Sumpter) perform backup.  But when their little group becomes quite popular with the help of music manager Stix (Derek Luke), she starts to think that her dreams just might be in reach.  But then Sister gets into a bad relationship with a man named Satin (Mike Epps) and the trio’s future is threatened – along with Sparkle’s whole career if she doesn’t find a way to break out on her own.  To make matters even more complicated, their mother (Whitney Houston) doesn’t approve of their working in the entertainment industry.

The film is often melodramatic, the acting is uneven at times (depending on the actors in the scene), and ultimately the whole thing feels a little disjointed and disappointing.  There is one reason that this film is worth checking out though.  This is Whitney Houston’s last film role.  All of her scenes are very good, and she is easily the best part of the film.  The songs are also worth it, although the ones in the latter half of the film outshine the ones at the beginning.  Basically, Sparkle is worth a rental if you are interested in it for those reasons (Whitney Houston, and the music) – it’s just unfortunate it wasn’t a better film overall.


Sparkle DVD Review By Nicole

** (out of 4)

Set during the Motown era of the 1960s, Sparkle is a melodramatic story about a dysfunctional family, love and betrayal.  The title character, Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) starts a singing group with her sisters Delores (Tika Sumpter) and Sister (Carmen Ejogo), with the help of manager Stix (Derek Luke), the cousin of Sister’s boyfriend, Levi (Omari Hardwick).  Their mother Emma (Whitney Houston) doesn’t agree with her daughters creating “baby making music,” since she doesn’t want them to repeat her mistakes.  Things go wrong when Sister dumps Levi for the sleazy TV comic Satin (Mike Epps), leading up to ridiculous looking slow motion scenes of melodramatic events.

While Sparkle is too long and falls apart in the end, the songs are definitely worth it.  While the late Whitney Houston has only one number, watching and hearing her sing “His Eye is on the Sparrow” is worth it.  She is the best part of the film, with the bittersweet knowledge that this was her last role.  Her performance as well as the other musical numbers make Sparkle worth a rental, but the soundtrack is worth owning.


Sparkle DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

It’s hard to watch Sparkle and not think about the tragic loss of Whitney Houston.  Every scene she’s in is well acted and towards the end of the film when she sings “His Eye is on the Sparrow” in a rousing church number it’s very emotional.  It’s too bad that Sparkle as a whole isn’t a more dynamic movie.

Sparkle is about Sister (Carmen Ejogo) and her sisters, Delores (Tika Sumpter) and Sparkle (Jordin Sparks).  Sparkle is the shyer songwriter of the trio.  It’s Sister who wants to make it big as a singer, and Delores is happy to sing along with the other two if it’ll help pay for her medical school tuition.  The trio gain attention singing Sparkle’s songs at various clubs, encouraged and managed by nice guy Stix (Derek Luke).  However, Sister’s dreams are bigger and when she turns to an arrogant famous comic, Satin (Mike Epps), her life grows darker as the three sisters fame and fortune grows larger.  Complicating things is the disapproval by their God-fearing Mama, Emma (Whitney Houston) who doesn’t want her daughters repeating her mistakes.

Sparkle is not a bad movie, it just lacks sparkle.  The song numbers are entertaining with the lead trio giving solid vocal performances.  The highlight of the film is without a doubt Whitney Houston.  The storyline is predictable and delves into melodrama in more than one scene.  Thankfully it ends on an upbeat note with a nice performance by Jordin Sparks.  The film is worth checking out if you missed it in theatres or want to see and hear the musical performances again.  This one’s for Whitney Houston fans.


Sparkle DVD Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Sparkle is set in late 1960s Detroit. Three sisters form a singing group against the wishes of their God-fearing mother Emma (Whitney Houston) whose own musical career went badly. The eldest known as Sister (Carmen Ejogo) is the lead singer, backed up by budding medical student Dolores, known as D. (Tika Sumpter) and Sparkle (Jordin Sparks), their gifted and prolific song writer. As Sister falls prey to an abusive relationship with the sleazy comic Satin (Mike Epps) and D. plans for medical school, Sparkle embarks on a brilliant career of her own, supported by her manager and boyfriend known as Stix (Derek Luke).

Sparkle is an uneven film, whose excellent cast is not well served by a predictable and melodramatic story that takes up too much of its running time of almost two hours. However, the brief musical numbers mainly at the beginning and end of the film are outstanding, making it worthwhile, particularly for those who fast forward through the middle.

Despite the film’s flaws and her limited role, Sparkle will always be fondly remembered as Whitney Houston’s last film, and she is brilliant. Director/writer partners Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil originally intended Houston to play Sister, but by the time they got into production Houston was old enough to portray the mother instead. The DVD includes a rather long featurette where various people redundantly pay tribute to her.


Consensus: Although Sparkle is overlong at 116 minutes and has an uneven screenplay, the musical performances are uniformly good and the film is worth checking out for the last on screen performance of the great Whitney Houston.  **1/4 (Out of 4)

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