November 20, 2017

“Sparkle” Shines but Shows Plenty of Rough Patches Too

sparkleBy Julie Samrick

It’s 1968 in Detroit, the heart of Motown, and every young girl wants to be the next Aretha or Diana Ross.  Sparkle is about a new generation’s passion for the music at that time, centering on three sisters who moonlight as a girl group away from their protective mother’s (Whitney Houston) watchful eye.

 

In a perfect first movie role for the 2007 American Idol winner, Jordin Sparks plays Sparkle, the youngest sister in a family of all women.  She is coming of age, trying to find balance between respecting her mother’s wishes while still following her own dreams. Sparkle is the sweetest and most supportive of the sisters as well as the brainy songwriter behind the sister act.  She must decide whether or not she’d like to shine in the spotlight too.

 

While the film has complex characters and even deeper family dynamics, great music is at the movie’s heart, with many original songs written for its score. It’s worth it just to see Houston give one powerful, show-stopping church choir performance in her last on-screen role.

 

The PG-13 rating comes with escalating heavy material that shouldn’t be seen by younger children. While the beginning of Sparkle is tame, there are eventually scenes showing drug use and domestic violence. The scenes with drug use aren’t glorified, but shown in the light of how talented people can so easily waste their dreams.

 

In one eerie scene Houston asks her daughters, “Wasn’t I enough of a cautionary tale to you?” to dissuade them from show business.  Parents can discuss the movie’s message with older teens as well as Houston’s real life tragic downfall all at once.

 

There are also some provocative outfits and singing performances. 

 

A good role model throughout, I was disappointed in Jordin Sparks’s main character when she gives in at the very end by dressing in an extremely revealing dress that she wouldn’t normally wear.

 

With parental guidance, high school aged kids (no younger) will get a lot out of Sparkle.  They will see what fierce family loyalty looks like and why even young adults still need house rules.  It will also be interesting for them to see what it was like to live in a different time- like when a traditional marriage proposal was the only way for a young man to show his good intentions and get the girl.

 

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