Theatrical Release: 8/17/2012
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter
Writer: Mara Brock Akil & Howard Rosenman
Producer: Debra Martin Chase
Director: Salim Akil
Runtime: 116 min.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Starring: Jordin Sparks,
Musical prodigy Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) struggles to become a star while overcoming issues that are tearing her family apart. From an affluent Detroit area and daughter to a single mother (Whitney Houston), she tries to balance a new romance with music manager, Stix (Derek Luke) while dealing with the unexpected challenges her new life will bring as she and her two sisters (Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter) strive to become a dynamic singing group during the Motown-era.
In Whitney Houston's last film she ironically plays a woman named Emma who had beaten substance abuse and raised a family despite a teen pregnancy. Sadly, the things she warned her daughters about in this film had a part in her recent death. But she shines with a screen presence in this movie as she is a protective Christian mother when it comes to her daughters Tammy, called Sister, Delores who is called Dee, and Sparkle. She was a talented singer herself but wants her daughters to avoid the mistakes she made. Sparkle is a terrific song writer and Sister is a talented soloist. They go behind their mother's back where they live in Detroit in the late sixties and meet an agent who begins to find them bookings all over the city. I must admit that the clothes and music took me back to the sixties as I watched this film and the filmmakers capture the period nicely.
Soon the temptations are many for the sisters and this is where decisions must be made. There are consequences to the decisions and, as Houston's character says so well, "You can follow your dream and face certain heartbreak, or you can relinquish worldly, sensual folly and recommit to using your gifts to serve God." This is one of the nice themes of the film, that all decisions contain consequences, either good or bad.
Despite some nice spiritual scenes in the movie there is strong use of language, the use of drugs, and sexual references which are a bit much for a family movie. And the violence will make some women viewers as well as others uncomfortable due to physical abuse to a character. Therefore we cannot award our Dove "Family-Approved" Seal to this movie.
Sex: Several sexual innuendos; a couple of frank sexual comments using slang about having sex; an "I'm h*rny" comment; sexy dance moves by women; passionate kissing by a couple and other kissing scene; teen pregnancy.
Language: GD-2; G/OMG-5; Good G-1; S-2; BS-1; D-5; H-7; A-4; Slang terms for sex-2; B-1; Wh*re-1
Violence: A male character hits and beats a woman; woman with black eye and a bloody lip; character hit repeatedly in slow motion with belt; a character who talks in church is slapped in head; a character is hit in the head with a poker and doesn't survive.
Drugs: Several drinking scenes; smoking scenes; a character uses cocaine on screen; a character uses cocaine off screen; a struggle over a container of cocaine and it is dropped to the floor and spilled; several smoking scenes; a character is either intoxicated or high.
Nudity: Cleavage; short skirts; women wear dressed with flesh coloring and it makes it look like they are wearing less than they are.
Other: Tense arguments between some characters; the subject of abuse; lack of respect shown by a few characters.