Friday, August 17, 2012

Cast makes film 'Sparkle' - Boston Herald

“Sparkle” Rated PG-13. At AMC Loews Boston Common, Regal Fenway Stadium and suburban theaters: B-

As a backstage musical, “Sparkle” promises a “Dreamgirls [trailer]”-style whammy but only occasionally manages to hit those heights.

The reality of 1968 Detroit was a city reeling from the nation’s worst race riots the previous summer, the Vietnam War with its anti-war protests, changing attitudes about drugs, feminism and sex and the continuing glories that emerged from Berry Gordy’s Motown Records hit factory.

“Sparkle” skips those urban concerns â€" hey, this is a musical! â€" to concentrate on the tribulations and ambitions of the -eldest and youngest of three daughters of strict, church-going Emma (Whitney Houston).

Sister (a radiant Carmen Ejogo) is nearing 30 and has reluctantly moved back home. She could not care less about a singing career, stardom or anything else.

In contrast, her songwriting baby sister Sparkle (Jordin Sparks, the “American Idol” winner) is consumed with hitting the charts and sees the siblings’ trio as a stepping stone to fame.

Middle sister Dolores (beautiful Tika Sumpter) plans to be a doctor and sings only to keep the peace.

As the girls, known as Sister and Her Sisters, get their first tryout, the stage is set for the men who will matter.

Sweet, good natured Stix (Derek Luke) wants to manage them and has a thing for Sparkle. Popular comedian Satin (Mike Epps), who by rights should be called Satan, is rich, obnoxious, smooth and a sellout, entertaining white folks on TV by mocking blacks.

Before you can say, “Girls, give it all you’ve got!” Sister slinkily transforms on stage, wows the crowd and Satin.

As the sisters pay their dues in black clubs, building a reputation, Sister and Satin begin their corrosive, drug-fueled journey to hell.

But not before the trio scores with “Something He Can Feel,” a sexy ghetto blast of a siren call originally from Curtis Mayfield’s 1976 “Sparkle,” one of four songs that have been carried over.

Houston solos effectively on the church and choir gospel standard “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” between several showdowns with her daughters and Satin. She’s memorable, and so is Ejogo in the film’s flashiest, most memorable role.

Sparks has a spark that brings “Sparkle” to its end.

(“Sparkle” contains domestic abuse, drugs, language and, most discreetly, sex.)

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