Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks

Directed by Salim Akil
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 1
Community: star rating
5 1 0
August 16, 2012

Whitney Houston deserved better than to go out onscreen with this botch job remake of a 1976 soap opera that never deserved another thought. Hell, Dreamgirls did a better job of fictionalizing the story of the Supremes into a viable musical. The new Sparkle is a formula job from scene one to dead end. Set in Detroit in the late 1960s with Motown in flower, Sparkle casts Houston as the domineering mother of three daughters who form a girl group behind mama's back. Sister (Carmen Ejogo) is the troubled bombshell who fronts the group, called – ready for it? – Sister and Her Sisters. Dee (Tika Sumpter) doesn't mind singing backup because she has her eye on being a doctor. It's Sparkle (Jordin Sparks), a churchy mama's girl, who does mind. Sparkle writes all the songs and yearns to be a STAR!. Oh, brother. Director Salim Akil hits every cliché in the script and adds visual triteness of his own. Sparks, the Season Six American Idol winner, has a lovely smile and no discernible range as an actress. So her final transformation falls flat. Still, there's one scene that almost redeems this mess of a movie. It's Houston in church singing "His Eye Is On the Sparrow." She gives it everything she has. And what a glory abides in her voice. In a movie that feels fake to its core, Houston is the genuine article. She will be much missed.

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