SET AGAINST the racial tensions of Detroit in the late '60s, Sparkle stars a former American Idol and is about a girl group getting discovered, rising to fame, and falling apart.
Is this an untimely review of Dreamgirls, you ask? Man, I wish. I LOVED Dreamgirls. Nope, this is Sparkle. It's a lot like Dreamgirls in many, many ways. Most ways, actually. But unfortunately, this film's star and former Idol, Jordin Sparks, is no Jennifer Hudson. This is Sparks' film debut, and her turn as lead character Sparkle—yeah, that's the character's name, it's weird—is weak, giggly, batty-eyelash-y, and does little more than remind me that it's time to watch Dreamgirls again.
The most noteworthy thing about Sparkle, however, is that this is the last film Whitney Houston made before she died. I was nervous to see her onscreen because I didn't want her to do a bad job and have to feel sorry for her, but you guys: She totally nails it as Sparkle's mom! Just as I thought I was going to nod off in the middle of the film, Houston brings the motherfucking house down. It made me glad, and also sad. That Whitney. One of a kind. Carmen Ejogo, who plays Sparkle's older sister and bandmate, also destroys. Let's keep an eye on that Ejogo. She should be huge.
But those performances by Ejogo and Houston are not enough to save Sparkle from a clunky plot, chemistry-less romances, and that doe-eyed Jordin Sparks. Also, this movie is crazy long. I could have created and broken up like 10 girl groups during this screening.
Unless you want to see Whitney Houston be awesome one last time, you could probably skip Sparkle and just rewatch Dreamgirls.
(Total count for the word "spark" in this review: 11. Whoa.)