Finding Harmony Through Faith, Desire, and Song
Starring: Jordin Sparks, Whitney
Houston, Derek Luke, Mike
Epps, Carmen Ejogo, Tika
Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, CeeLo
Audience: Older teenagers to adults
Runtime: 111 minutes
Distributor: TriStar Pictures/Sony Pictures
Director: Salim Akil
Executive Producer: Whitney Houston, Howard
Rosenman, Gaylyn Fraiche,
Avram Butch Kaplan
Producer: Debra Martin Chase, T.D.
Jakes, Salim Akil, Mara Brock
Akil, Curtis Wallace
Writer: Mara Brock Akil
Address Comments To:Michael Lynton, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chairman
Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman
Jeff Blake, Vice Chairman
Sony Pictures Entertainment (Columbia Pictures/TriStar/Screen Gems/Affirm Films/Provident Films)
10202 West Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-3195
Phone: (310) 244-4000; Fax: (310) 244-2626
Web Page: www.spe.sony.com/
The story opens in Detroit during the 1960s in a club having a singing competition to discover the next hottest act. Sparkle, 19, finally convinces her older sister, nicknamed Sister (Carmen Ejogo), to go out and sing a song Sparkle wrote. It’s a hit and Sparkle and Sister leave quickly after she sings. Stix (Derek Luke), a small-time music manager from Kansas, is instantly on a mission to find the girl who wowed the audience and make her a star.
The two girls catch the bus and sneak back in the house with the help of their sister Dolores (Tika Sumpter), who also sings, but aspires to go to medical school. The girls get in the room just in time before their strict mother (Whitney Houston) marches into their bedroom to remind them they’ve got church in the morning.
Stix finds the three sisters in church. He learns they all sing and that Sparkle is a gifted songwriter. So, he works hard to promote the girls as the next girl group sensation.
For some time, the sisters are able to keep this secret from their mother, who would strongly disapprove and has warned them of the dangers of the entertainment industry and told them it’s best to stay in the church. Sparkle and Stix fall in love and the three girls continue to sneak out of their mom’s house to perform. Just as their popularity and success begins to grow, and they have a chance at a record contract, things take a devastating, tragic twist. Sparkle, torn between family and her music dreams, must then decide if her dream and her gift are worth pursuing.
The production quality in SPARKLE is excellent for its production quality, although there’s a moment where the lip sync is slightly out of sync. Aesthetically speaking, the shot composition, lighting and the use of color especially for wardrobe, are well done throughout the movie. The sound design plays a prominent role to advance the story by giving music and sound cues for characters. The musical lyrics also serve as a storyteller. There are several successful musical moments. Viewers will be reminded that Jordin Sparks is truly a talented vocalist.
Although there are some adult situations in the movie, the dominant worldviews are Christian and biblical/moral. There are a number of scenes honoring God in prayer and praise in the home and in the church. An opposing anti-biblical perspective is often represented by Satin, who claims prayer is a waste of time. There are heartfelt themes that transcend all ages such as faith, stewardship, love, and sacrifice. The music also creates tension. Both gospel music and secular music are performed. This reinforces the movie’s dichotomy between what is godly and what is worldly, saintly versus sinful, or good versus evil. Sparkle is faced with the conundrum of why would God give her a gift for music and then it’s wrong for her to express it. Her mother points out that there’s nothing wrong with having a gift, but how one uses that gift.
Symbolism is often used in the plot and character development. For example, Sister’s two boyfriends represent symbols of good and evil. Levi has a biblical name. Thus, in the Bible, the priests come from the Tribe of Levi. In the movie, Levi is poor, humble, and loves Sister dearly inside and out and wants to honor her and be a good husband to her. Satin, who’s name is one letter away from Satan, is wealthy, self-serving, a smooth-talker who uses people, and beats on Sister.
SPARKLE has several references made to the civil rights movement and the tumultuous times of the 1960s in America. Just as there is a political and civil fight for equality and freedom, Sparkle fights for her freedom to be heard as she creates and performs music.
MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for some of the content in SPARKLE. Discretion is advised for older teenagers and adults due to domestic violence, drug use, and some obscene language. Ultimately, however, SPARKLE is a movie with many endearing moments of trials overcome in triumph as Sparkle discovers who she is and finds a way to bring all that she loves together in harmony through her own song.
The production quality in SPARKLE is excellent. There are several successful musical moments. Viewers likely will be reminded that Jordin Sparks, as Sparkle, is truly a talented vocalist. Both gospel music and secular music are performed. This reinforces the movie’s dichotomy between what is godly and what is worldly, saintly versus sinful, or good versus evil. SPARKLE has a strong Christian worldview. There are scenes honoring God in prayer and praise in both the home and church. The movie also has many transcendent, heartfelt themes such as faith, stewardship, love, and sacrifice. However, extreme caution is advised for SPARKLE for some domestic violence, drug use, and foul language.