Redemption tells the story of Stan "Tookie" Williams, founder of the Crips L.A. street gang. Story follows his fall into gang-banging, his prison term, and his work writing children's ... See full summary »
Lee Thompson Young
A talented young woman is torn between her dreams and her family in this musical. Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) has been blessed with a beautiful voice and a gift for songwriting, but she's afraid to perform her songs in public, in part because her mother Emma (Whitney Houston), a former entertainer whose career brought her nothing but heartache, refuses to allow her daughters to sing outside of church. But Sparkle persuades her older sibling Sister (Carmen Ejogo) to sing one of her tunes at a talent show, and the reaction proves that Sister has star quality and Sparkle can write potential hits. An ambitious would-be manager, Stix (Derek Luke), persuades Sparkle and Sister to form a singing group with their sibling Dolores (Tika Sumpter), but while the act clicks wit audiences, the sisters have to contend with their angry mother, Sister gets caught up in a destructive relationship with a short-tempered comedian (Mike Epps), and Sparkle finds herself falling in love with Stix.
The year's most tedious musical, the new Sparkle, has hit the late summer screens with a whimper, and that includes all the respect I can give to producer and supporting actress Whitney Houston. But the late star should have known that the old star is born motif needs more than clichés, and I wish she hadn't awarded herself the most thankless role in the movie.
American Idol's Jordin Sparks plays Sparkle, the most demure of three singing sisters in the early sixties but potentially the most talented of them all through her writing. Suffice it to say the languid 116 minutes contain the usual ups and downs associated with singing groups on film with the obvious purpose to crown one as a star. Houston's role of the overprotective mother may be slightly more rewarding than Derek Luke's as the loving, sometimes manipulative and self-centered manager. Wait, wait, I have another more unsympathetically clichéd character: Satin, the black TV comedian, played smarmy and brutal as is convention by Mike Epps. Satin scoops up the flashiest, sexiest of the sisters only to make everyone sorry he did. No surprises.
Throughout this mediocre musical retreading, too few musical numbers occur, and when they do, they too loosely fit the storyline of the emerging trio and infrequently give the audience superior music. I love screen musicals like Chicago and even Step Up, but Sparkle for a new age is too old a vibe.
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