The remake of “Sparkle” is not a film to see if; 1) you want to remember Whitney Houston at her best 2) you have seen either the Broadway production of “Dreamgirls” or 3) you have seen the movie version of “Dreamgirls”.
Don’t get me wrong as Whitney Houston isn’t bad, or embarrassing, but she sings only one song which is near the end of the film. In the rest of the film her hair is mostly in curlers, not to mention she is a strict no nonsense church going G-d fearing formidable mother who walks around with a sour face though she is thought to have found the Lord after tasting some fame. The last few minutes of “Sparkle” she is dressed to the nines and all smiles but there is no sparkle to Ms. Houston. You would be better off seeing “The Bodyguard” , “Waiting To Exhale”, “The Preacher’s Wife and “Cinderella” or going to Youtube and watching her sing her many hits. She sings “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” in a church setting and her voice, appropriately, shows the strain of her last decade. Also people will read too much into many of the things she says in the movie.
For the first hour of the film I thought I was watching a third rate version of “Dreamgirls” with my comparing the characters in “Sparkle” to their counterparts in the movie version of the former. Yes, there is Mike Epps playing the Eddie Murphy role and Carmen Ejogo could have stepped in for Beyonce. We have the three girls doing a Diana Ross and the Supremes act not to mention the guy who believes in them and, yes, it takes place in Detroit, with references to Motown, along with Martin Luther King and let’s not forget the riots which aren’t shown in this film. Of course, because it is in that era we have to have the over sequined dresses, the stilted choreography and ‘that Motown sound’. In the last 45 minutes the screenplay veers off but we are still having the big star comedian melting down on stage and the unknown becoming a star in a far fetched almost last minute concert.
Playing the 3 sisters are Jordin Sparks (Sparkle) who really doesn’t have a chance to prove anything regarding being an actress, Carmen Ejogo (Sister) who comes through with a mostly solid performance and Tika Sumpter (Delores) stealing every scene she is in and introduces the Afro to a suppose in the know crowd. Mike Epps as Satin, Derek Luke as the group’s manager and a love interest for one of the sisters and Omari Hardwick, as Sister’s first boyfriend, are there for the females and give strong support.
The directing, by Salin Akil and the screenplay by Mara Brock Akil, are as haphazard as the new songs, written by various composers including Jordin Sparks, and are easily forgettable. The best song, and singer, is Nina Simone’s recording of “Feeling Good” from 1965!