Monday, August 20, 2012

Bougie Movie Review - Sparkle

I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.
Simply put, I found the remake of the 1976 film Sparkle to be good but not great nor an any way outstanding. Let me be honest and admit that I found the original to be just okay as well so my expectations were not soaring. For those unaware, Sparkle is about three sisters living with their strict mother in 1968 Detroit. Sparkle is the writer, Sister (the eldest) is the bombshell and Dee is along for the ride while waiting for her acceptance to medical school to kick in. For those of you who were strongly attached to the plot in the original, some surprises await you in the rebooted version.

Sparkle at its core is a good musical with entertainment value. Here's what truly resonated-

1. Whitney. She held her own and made a part that wasn't fully sketched out into a full-bodied character. Unfortunately, we were only given peeks at her backstory so we never completely understood her attitude. There was a spooky moment when as Emma, the mother of the three singing sisters, Whitney glared them all down and uttered, "Was my life not cautionary tale enough for you?" The entire audience held our collective breath for a minute. It was just a little too real. And watching Ms. Houston sing "His Eye is On The Sparrow" was tough. Say what you will about her voice in the last decade but she still knew how to deliver a song. 

2. The dudes - Derek Luke, Mike Epps, and Omari Hardwick play second fiddle to the sisters and it shows. We don't know a lot about them or what makes them tick so we just kind of take them at face value and keep it pushing.

3. Jordin Sparks - I have to admit not to paying a lot of attention to Ms. Sparks before this. I knew she was an American Idol winner and I liked her No Air song with the Bow-Tied Boy Wonder but I kind of wrote her off as a pop sort-of star who was kind of cute. Well, she showed me something. She's far more talented as a singer than I realized and there's something about her that's just likable.

4. Carmen Ejogo - In my opinion, this actress who played Sister stole the film. She's a gorgeous vibrating force on film and any time she entered a scene, your eyes stayed on her. Besides being physically blessed, I thought she added some depth to what could've been a shallow character.

Long story short, I didn't find it to be an instant classic. It was just nice. The music was well done (particularly the use of the great Nina Simone's Feeling Good) and the plot was as expected. But for a movie set in 1968 Detroit, I didn't get the feeling (with the exception of the makeup and clothing) that we were really immersed in that time and place. Especially with as much turmoil as 1968 brought to bear? I expected to feel more of that setting. At any rate, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.

Thoughts, comments, questions? No spoilers in the comments, please!


EvolvingElle said...

I saw the film and took away most of what you did.  I was wondering if Whitney still had her singing chops (she does) and if Jordin could be a star (she has strong potential).  Jordin's song at the end made me want the soundtrack.  I never saw the original, so I didn't have anything to compare it to.  Apparently my mom liked it, which was most important since I took her for her birthday.

Javalicious said...

I saw it Saturday and I have to agree - it was good but not great. Whitney loved tired to me though. Just weary through the whole thing. May she rest in peace.

Penni Brown said...

It's funny, I have most of the same comments as you, but I thought the movie was excellent. I went in with low expectations. I hadn't seen the original in quite some time, and it wasn't a real touch stone in my upbringing. But, this version was commendable. 

Watching Whitney sing that song was just too much. She brought a lot to her character and if she were still alive, this might've represented a significant turning point in her career.

Jordin was very likeable and her singing was beyond what I expected from her. Carmen was outstanding. I wish Mike Epps could've been better. 

Leon X said...

I watched the original Sparkle for the first time last week in about several years. I think the major difference is in the original they were all friends. You saw how the friendships deteriorated at the expense of fame.

Jennifer said...

I'm not big on remakes, but this was a decent one. I was impressed with Jordin Sparks, she was stronger than I expected her to be. (Plus I love Irene Cara, so I'm biased)
The Whitney line that got me was "you never saw me lying in my own vomit." I wasn't ready for that line.

Cyn said...

 I agree, I loved it.  It definitely had a bit of differences from the original but I expected that.  It held my attention, I never tired of the singing like with most musicals, and all the actors really did a good job. 

Jordin Sparks is now on my radar and  I've always like Carmen Ejogo and she was captivating .Tika Sumpter was simply gorgeous and she brought a lot sass to her role and it was nice to see Mike Epps change it up a bit.  It wasn't super dramatic but it was overall a really good film.  I plan to add it to my DVD collection.

Reecie said...

I enjoyed it also, and thought Carmen was the standout.

no comment said...

I actually enjoyed the movie. I thought the previews looked BOOTLEG and janky but I go see anything with my boo Derek Luke!

I thought Whitney was fab and Jordin can def. crossover into acting she is one of the few who can act and sing in my book.

The orginial Sparkle was only ok/good to me I enjoyed the remake better.

Michele said...

I saw it yesterday afternoon and I was pleasantly surprised.  Watching Whitney deliver that "cautionary tale" line made me sad. 

datdudeincali said...

Date movie?

KShrops said...

Agreed - not an instant classic and somewhat shallow. I think the changes in the plot from the original compromise our ability to connect with the characters or feel Sparkle's sense of urgency. However, for those of us who love Whitney, this film is a gift. Her performance with the church choir gave me chills...

OneChele said...

Yep. And the soundtrack is a purchase.

JaymeC said...

Just came from seeing it. I liked it but I agree, it wasn't take your breath away great. Whitney was hard to watch. More than a few us got out the Kleenex during her song with the choir. Overall well done.

no comment said...

I thought Mike Epps held his own.

SingLikeSassy said...

I can't say I went in with any expectation at all. I did realize a few days before it premiered that the original "Sparkle" was not on my rotation of go-to black movies and beyond the songs, I didn't remember much about it. Now "Lady Sings The Blues?" I've seen that 70-leven times, have it on VHS and DVD and when the technology changes, I'll purchase it again. I will never get tired of watching that movie.

Anyway, I liked this movie. Mike Epps was a great Satin. Like you, I hadn't paid Jordin much attention before this movie, but I was pleasantly surprised by her voice and I think if she and her people find her niche she could have a nice long career.

The backstory wasn't there, you're right and I think they confused things by mentioning that the girls had different dads cause then you wanted to know where the dads were and how Emma bootstrapped her way from teen mom, to drunk singer, to boutique owner.

I think they must have purposely decided to ignore the 60s as a character in this movie in hopes that the relationships would be strong enough to carry it.

Whitney's church solo gave me goosebumps.


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