By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
LOS ANGELES, CALIF.--
When Whitney Houston signed on to star in the remake of the classic, 1976 movie "Sparkle,"
her star power dispelled the fears that many African-Americans had about Hollywood tampering with their beloved coming of age musical drama.
The original "Sparkle" launched the careers of Irene Cara ("Fame") and Philip Michael Thomas ("Miami Vice") and also starred Lonette McKee, Dorian Harewood, Tony King, Dwan Smith and Mary Alice.
Houston's death, shortly after "Sparkle" was completed has made the film—which opens nationwide Aug. 17
—one of the most anticipated movies this summer.
Although Houston gives a memorable performance in "Sparkle," she isn't the only one that makes this movie shine. "Sparkle"—which pays homage to the original film--benefits from a stellar cast that includes: "American Idol" season six winner Jordin Sparks in the title role, Derek Luke ("Antwone Fisher"), Carmen Ejogo ("I, Alex Cross"), Mike Epps ("The Hangover III"), Tika Sumpter ("Think Like a Man"), Omari Hardwick (TV's "Breakout Kings" and "Verses & Flow") and a barely recognizable Michael Beach (TV's "The Game"). "Reel Movie Talk."
Directed, produced and written by Salim and Mara Brock Akil ("Jumping the Broom"), "Sparkle" tells the riveting story of three middle class sisters, Tammy Anderson (Carmen Ejogo), Dolores (Tika Sumpter) and Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) growing up in Detroit during the 1960s. They live with their strict, bible thumping mother Emma (Houston) and want nothing more than to break free from her overbearing ways.
Dolores (Sumpter) has her sights set on becoming a doctor, Sparkle (Sparks) is the youngest of the bunch that has a talent for writing music and Sister (Ejogo) is a major diva looking to lead a glamorous life at almost any cost.
When the shy Sparkle meets a handsome, young man named Stix (Luke) at a club where Sister is performing, he tells her that he's a music manager. Stix convinces Sparkle that she and her sisters have what it takes to become the next big girl group much to the dismay of their mother.
It's not long before Sparkle's songwriting catapults the young women's music careers and they are soon performing at big venues all over Detroit. And just when it seems success is a step away, Sister ditches her well-meaning boyfriend, Levi (a sensational Omari Hardwick) for the wealthy and insecure comedian Satin Struthers (a stunning star turn for Mike Epps) who gets her hooked on drugs. Soon Sister's life begins to spiral out of control and tears the group and her family apart.
Much like the original film, this reimagined "Sparkle" is all about the music. Sparks, Sumpter and Ejogo hit all the right notes performing three of the film's biggest songs: "Something He Can Feel," "Jump" and "Hooked on Your Love" which were on the original Curtis Mayfield "Sparkle" soundtrack album.
And Houston's "His Eye is On the Sparrow, is as soul stirring as it gets.
Although "Sparkle" would have been Houston's comeback movie, it's now a fitting tribute and celebration of the singer's life and legacy and a very good one at that.
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