Sparkle (2012) Directed by Salim Akil. Starring: Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo and Whitney Houston. IMDB says: ”Set in the 1960s, three sisters form girl group and soon become Motown sensations, but fame becomes a challenge as the close-knit family begins to fall apart.”
Let’s face it, we all get the same pit in our stomachs when we come across remakes. That pit becomes even bigger if said remake is a film we grew up watching. So one could understand my apprehension in seeing Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 movie of the same title. As far as remakes go, 2012 Sparkle executes it almost perfectly, finding the right balance of paying homage to the first film while standing on its own two feet as a standalone movie.
The updated Sparkle follows the story of the original, three sisters dream of stardom and create a singing group, but the harsh realities of life and the music industry prevents all but one from making their dreams come true. Sparkle keeps the heart and spirit of the original while making small tweaks to keep up with modern audiences. What I really enjoy about the movie is how it paid homage to the original. For Sparkle to be a hit (for me) it definitely needed to get a couple things right. The big one being the movie’s most memorable music number, “Giving Him Something He Can Feel”, and baby, they nailed it. The audience, who were quite vocal during the film, was dead silent during this scene, they were mesmerized.
The acting was very believable and personable. The cast did an amazing job in making you care about the characters. Mike Epps played Satin, the smooth-talking antagonist of the film. It was nice to see Epps expand his film roles past just being funny and dip his foot in more serious parts. Relative unknowns Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter shined in their roles as Sparkle’s older, sexy sister and her plucky younger sibling, respectively. Jordin Sparks impressed me in her role as Sparkle, through the course of the film the character is meant to slowly come out of her shell to become the star that she was meant to be, I felt that Sparks really understood Sparkle as a character and that showed through her acting. With being a winner of American Idol, we all knew that Jordin could carry a tune, but she blew me away in the final number of the movie entitled “One Wing”, I had no idea her voice had that much depth and soul. This was another number the audience really responded well to.
Now if we’re talking about acting and singing, it would be remiss of me not to mention the late icon, Whitney Houston. For this reviewer, it was quite hard seeing her up there on the big screen. In Sparkle, Whitney played the quintessential “stern mother”. Seriously, at times I felt that the writers of the movie bugged my living room growing up and used some of my mother’s quotes. Before going into the film, I told myself that I was not going to cry when I saw Whitney, and I kept that promise…until she sung “His Eye Is One the Sparrow”. Not only was that song emotional in the context of the film, but combined with the fact she’s no longer with us gave the entire audience the chills, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. This will be the way I will always remember Whitney.
In summary, if you love the original, go see this movie. If you love good music, go see this movie. If you love to be entertained, go see this movie. Sparkle lives up to the original plus gives you more. Not only do I recommend you see it, but you should buy the soundtrack too.
FTS SCORE: 78%