Director: Salim Akil
Sparkle is flying all over and lands in convenient sitcom places. One sequence will play out similar to a Nickelodeon movie then all of a sudden it can turn into 1989’s Harlem Nights. Oh, and between all that, the cast belts out a few Motown hits from the ‘60s in this 116 minute predictable drama.
The set designs and costuming are the only consistent elements that earn your attention. Well, those, and Mike Epps; who steals the show as the arrogant comedian that white audiences simply adore. And even though there are singing talents such as Jordin Sparks, the late Whitney Houston and Carmen Ejogo, the musical component is pretty much ancillary.
When a young man named Stix (Derek Luke) gets a strong case of puppy love for Sparkle (Jordin Sparks), he encourages her to strike out with her songwriting and perform on stage. He also realizes that Sparkle’s sister, uh, Sister (Carmen Ejogo) is the true star performer of the bunch, which also includes their other sister (Tika Sumpter). Stix puts the trio in front of people that can advance them, despite crystal-clear disapproval from the girls’ mother (Whitney Houston).
Mama raised good Christian girls and does not want them going down the path Stix, and they, envision. After sneaking out of the house many of nights, the girls gain some traction in the Motown scene. Sister, who is the obvious hook for the group, mainly thanks to her sexy stage presence, also attracts the sly and cocky Satin (Mike Epps showing range); leading the group chemistry and possible opportunities to be tested when she gets influenced by his egomaniacal lifestyle.
There’s really not purpose to this story whatsoever. It’s basically the trials and tribulations of a performing act trying to make it during that era. And the only charismatic part about it is when Mike Epps is involved as he romances and ruthlessly belittles Carmen Ejogo and everyone around her. This is the only time one will feel anything, and that’s factoring in Whitney’s swan song number that barely lights a spark. And the same can be said for her acting, which consists of flashing disapproving looks to her sneaky daughters. Eventually, Jordin Sparks cranks out an engaging tune but for the most part, this is just a dragging kid-movie one minute and then a period-piece drama the next. And with having so many changes in the arrangements so to speak, this never can lay down a steady track, save for the already mentioned rock solid performances by the supporting cast.
This will surely strike a chord with certain audiences but let’s just say the majority of people who see this act will not have any trouble getting this jumpy tune (light screenplay that skips around) out of their respective heads before getting to the parking lot.
Overall: C -