Morning Music Movie Lovers! Today is a great day for lovers of both movies and music; today being the opening day of the highly anticipated film (and final project of the late Whitney Houston) Sparkle. Now, if you’ve been following me, you know my story but I will repeat a little, so you might understand some things I will write here today. The 1976 original is my all time favorite film. I was three years old when it came out, but somehow ended up BEGGING my mother as a pre-teen to find this movie on VHS to rent or buy from somewhere (i.e. Erol’s Video, the neighborhood rental, somewhere!). Maybe it had something to do with both my parents being huge film fans themselves and taking me to the movies since birth, but I knew I had to see and own this movie. A family friend ended up finding someone who owned the film and they made me a copy; which I actually had up until about four years ago when my basement flooded and many of my video tapes and a lot of my music collection was damaged. It’s okay, I already owned the DVD by that time, but I cherished that VHS tape copy and Mr. Jim’s efforts of finding for me (loved you for that Mr. Jim, RIP). Once I got it, I watched Sparkle, literally, everyday. My mother owned the original soundtrack, you know with Ms. Aretha Franklin on the cover with the boa and glitter turban (is that what the headpiece was called)? I know each song, movement, word spoken by every single person in the movie. I think Irene Cara and Lonette McKee were the cat’s meow. I also think Philip Michael Thomas was the finest thing on camera back then. Now, in this post I’m going to speak as though you’ve seen the original or at least read the few posts I’ve written mentioning these films in the past, so just a heads up (but don’t worry no major spoilers :)).
Okay, so I gave you several old head alerts in that last paragraph, so don’t hold it against me. Now on to the new, and I mean it is a sparkly new story, not a carbon copy, but an adaptation of the original. Lovers of the old will definitely appreciate a few of the updates. For instance, the main character Sparkle, played by Jordin Sparks who gave a really solid performance, is now the backbone of the group though it’s a role she has to come to own. In the original, the Stix character was the “mastermind,” writing songs, booking the group etc. Screenwriter Mara Brock Akil (Jumping the Broom, The Game series) definitely brought the woman power and movement of the decade’s paradigm shift (screenplay changed from 50’s Harlem to 60’s Detroit) to this film quite nicely. Don’t believe me? Check out how cleverly she updated the Dolores character, nicknamed Dee and played by the amazingly talented Tika Sumpter. I do, but don’t want to say too much about some of the updates because we know I hate spoilers. But I can say I appreciated the class change that was added to the Williams family. Ms. Williams, now named Emma not Effie, is a retired performer herself in this version, and the family lives very comfortably as opposed to the original where the Effie character was a maid who worked for others living comfortably, but living not so comfortably with her three children.
Speaking of the Emma character, Ms. Whitney Houston…phew. Bittersweet watching Whitney Houston in her last film role, especially this particular movie. I know that she worked for years to see this project to fruition (remember years ago, when the late Aaliyah was going to be the lead?). I am very happy that she did get to complete this project and she was good in it (she really brought the “mean momma” to the screen). If you’re a Whitney fan like me, just bring some Kleenex for her church solo scene, ‘kay? Alright, I can’t stay there long. On to Mr. Mike Epps who was really, really, good as Satin Struthers. I enjoyed the fact that Satin was a performer, not a gangster like in the original, but don’t worry fans of the original because he is still the “bad guy.” Another favorite? Ladies, two words…Omari Hardwick!!!!! Chile, the Levi character in this movie made me want the ring box with the picture in it…go see the film to get that one And I would be remiss if I didn’t add that Carmen Ejogo as Sister Williams brought the sexy, sass, but also gave some grit to the Sister character.
Okay, now I can’t front, I did have some gripes with this film. There were a few areas where I felt the movie dragged only to get to scenes that literally should have been longer. Again, I am trying not to spoil so I will summarize them. I believe we should have seen more of the backstory or tension creation between Emma and Sister. I believe there should have been more added to the Levi character’s story (and some closure between he and Stix). I don’t know if I believed the romance between Stix and Sparkle and really am disappointed that some of the original music was edited, I really needed to hear Jordin Sparks SANG “Look Into Your Heart,” it was too short. And I know they were working around what was a duet between Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas, but she could have sung ALL of the Irene part (and Philip’s if she wanted) okay! Also, I must admit I haven’t fallen in love with the new songs, sorry R. Kelly, although I did enjoy “One Wing.” I will purchase the soundtrack mostly for sentimental reasons, meaning Whitney. I will leave it there family, because I don’t want to come off blasting but definitely have to keep it sincere.
Last but certainly not least, the fashion…OMG! The gowns, the suits, the short dresses, hats, gloves, the tailored leather coat Sparkle had on in one of the Columbia Records scenes, everything was FAB Ruth Carter really nailed the costumes in this one family and they are spectacular to behold. In short, Sparkle is entertaining and beautiful to watch on the big screen. There were several solid performances and many of the changes worked. If I had to grade, I would give it a B-. I will say that all of the giveaway winners and their guests (see pics below) enjoyed it and most said they LOVED it.
Alright, let me know when you go see it family and leave your thoughts below!
Until next thought, Thomasena