In the late '60s, a songwriter, Sparkle Anderson (Jordin Sparks), and her two sisters try to break into the Detroit music scene with dreams of becoming huge stars. Their single mom, Emma, played by Whitney Houston in her final movie role, struggles to keep them from experiencing the same mistakes she made as a singer.
I had no idea that this was a remake of a film from 1976, but the story line does sound amazingly like another favorite of mine, Dreamgirls. While it is a bit disappointing that the story is not more original, it doesn’t detract from the entertainment value – so go see it. After all, how many versions of Cinderella or Spiderman are out there that we keep watching?
The acting in this film is totally believable, and the songs – some older ones and some newer ones – will definitely get your toes tapping. Playing the divorced, oldest sister, who is called "Sister," Carmen Ejogo shows a heartbreaking progression of what Emma’s life could have been like. Tika Sumpter’s "Dee" is the no-nonsense, very smart, middle sister – she is the almost perfect result of Emma’s strict mothering, though she’s perfectly willing to break out and have some fun now and then. Sparkle is the youngest, and just might possibly be able to have what Emma was working for– stardom and the love of a good man, without the downside of the seedy music industry. Though Tika doesn’t have a solo, all of these women have incredible voices.
I couldn’t finish this review without covering the costumes. The street wear of the entire cast seems to be pretty spot–on for the time period, and seeing all the ladies in their "Sunday go to meeting" hats is way too much fun. Ms. Houston wears a parade of nicely tailored, dignified dresses, and I love the outfit she wears during her solo, which is inspiring beyond words. Costume designer Ruth E. Carter gets to have a lot more fun when it comes to Satin, who is Sister’s love interest, and really cuts loose with the girls’ performance clothes – from Church Lady to absolutely stunning!
Reviewer: Michael Black, FIDM Museum Coordinator