In 1976, when I sat in the theaters and saw the film Sparkle for the first time, I saw it at least 15 times at the theaters, I thought it was one of the best movies I ever saw and that there wasn’t any man cuter than Phillip Michael Thomas. I cried harder each time Sister died than I did the time before.
When I stepped into the theater to see the new SPARKLE this opening weekend, I tried to leave the old Sparkle behind and see the new with fresh eyes. I think I did a pretty decent job of it.
The story is an old one that transcends all racial and time lines. Momma was a professional singer that didn’t quite make it. Bad
marriages, alcohol, drugs and 3 beautiful and talented daughters later, she finds religion and forbids her daughters to go down the music path she did. Daughter number one runs away to try her luck in New York and find almost the same disappointment as her momma. She must come home broken, broke, and beaten. Daughter number two is determined to become a doctor. She is business smart and can sing as well as her sisters. She is of a darker skin tone than her sisters and is sometimes overlooked but she is something to be reckoned with. Daughter number three is the "good girl” who sings in the church choir but secretly writes songs about love, lust and wanting. Her name is Sparkle.
Sparkle 2012 has new twists and a great cast. Whitney Houston was also one of the executive producers for the film. Her presence on
the screen almost upstaged the story. The words she spoke to her daughters seemed to echo louder and truer now that she has died. When she sings “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” chills rose on my arm as I listened to people in the audience breaking down in tears.
I had heard from some friends that they felt the role of Sister was miscast. I disagree. Carmen Ejogo took the role of Sister and truly made it her own. She worked it in such a way you really felt the love and loyalty she had for her sisters. You saw the need she had to be taken care of
instead of being the caretaker.
Tika Sumpter is off the chain as Sparkle’s sister. She is strong and interesting. She is very important to the feel of the film.
Jordan Sparks as Sparkle was good, no I can’t say she was as heart felt as Irene Cara, however, she was still good. In the beginning she doesn’t sing full out. Sister is the star of the family and Sparkle’s confidence as a writer is stronger than that of a singer and we are allowed to see her awkwardness and growing up on stage. When it is time to sing the song, ‘One Wing’ you feel her come in her own. I must mention that R. Kelly is the music advisor on the film and “One Wing” pulls the whole story together.
I cannot close out this review without mentioning the fabulous performance of Mike Epps as Satin. He was as good as my mother’s 5 layer chocolate cream cake. On the outside it looks like a big old chocolate cake but when you cut it there are 5 layers of just plain good stuff. Mike Epps took the role of Satin and created layers of him. I saw the confident comedian that told Negro jokes for white people, then there was the layer of Satin that was insecure about performing for black people, then there was the layer of real love he had for Sister, and the layer of not knowing how to show that love except through violence. When you see the movie, look in his eyes. They tell the story.
I say SPEND THE MONEY and see SPARKLE at the theater. It’s okay and understood that you will love the original more but give this one a chance. It doesn’t shine as bright at the 1976 version but there is still a warm glow.