Sparkle (2012) - Rotten Tomatoes

Sparkle (2012)



Critic Consensus: While undeniably melodramatic and old-fashioned, Sparkle transcends its formulaic trappings thanks to Salim Akil's empathetic direction and strong performances from a committed cast.

Movie Info

Musical prodigy, Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) struggles to become a star while overcoming issues that are tearing her family apart. From an affluent Detroit area and daughter to a single mother (Whitney Houston), she tries to balance a new romance with music manager, Stix (Derek Luke) while dealing with the unexpected challenges her new life will bring as she and her two sisters (Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter) strive to become a dynamic singing group during the Motown-era. -- (C) Sonymore
Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic content involving domestic abuse and drug material, and for some violence, language and smoking)
Genre: Musical & Performing Arts, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Howard Rosenman, Mara Brock Akil
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 30, 2012
Box Office: $24.4M
Sony Pictures - Official Site


Mike Epps
as Satin
Tika Sumpter
as Dolores
Tamela Mann
as Ms. Sara Waters
Michael Beach
as Rev. Bryce
Brély Evans
as Tune Ann
Linda Boston
as Sister Clora
Erika Hoveland
as Larry's Secretary
Debra Port
as Receptionist
Kem Owens
as Buddy
Sarah Hensen
as Heckler
Doug Mingo
as Goofy Guy
Mark Rademacher
as Filmore Manager
David Regal
as Stage Manager
Robert Forte Shannon
as Stix's Opponent
Margaret Scott
as Church Saint
Goapele Mohlabane
as Girl Group - Lead Si...
as Girl Group - Back Up...
Keely Morris
as Girl Group - Back Up...
Brittany Perry Russe...
as Sparkle's Back Up Si...
Charmaine Jordan
as Sparkle's Back Up Si...
Tiffany Alexander
as Prison Guard
Stephanie Moseley
as Rehearsal Dancer
Temecha Myers
as Rehearsal Dancer
Fatima Robinson
as Girl Group - Back Up...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Sparkle

Critic Reviews for Sparkle

All Critics (89) | Top Critics (31)

Sparkle shamelessly piles on the clichés, but it's an entertaining ride throughout.

Full Review… | August 30, 2012
Top Critic

Noteworthy only for featuring Whitney Houston's last screen appearance.

Full Review… | August 27, 2012
New Yorker
Top Critic

"Sparkle" has its bright spots - mostly in the middle of the film - and Epps and Ojogo shine.

Full Review… | April 17, 2016

This is the second most embarrassing thing to happen to Whitney Houston this year.

Full Review… | July 17, 2013

Wallowing in melodrama, the film's sole highlight is Whitney Houston's supporting turn in it.

Full Review… | June 30, 2013
Big Hollywood

Whitney Houston's vibrant, final performance adds poignancy to this likeable, breezy remake of a familiar tale.

Full Review… | November 7, 2012
The National (UAE)

Audience Reviews for Sparkle


I thought the actress who played Sister walked away with this movie (Carmen Ejogo). I thought Jordin was supposed to be the star in this, her debut movie. I love her voice; a beautiful girl, but one who should take acting lessons before she makes another movie. Whitney was just so...sad. I was sorry to see her like this. The music was pretty good, as well as the male actors. Dreamgirls was better, but this film made a good effort...

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


"Sparkle" is a good musical melodrama but not much more than that. It stars Jordin Sparks, in her acting debut. Ms. Sparks is certainly competent, but I don't expect her to have a huge screen career.

The stand-out is Whitney Houston, in her last screen performance. She's not the greatest actress you've ever seen, but she's very good playing a middle-aged woman crushed under the burden of a lifetime of heartbreaks. Where she really comes alive is when she sings. She only has one song in the film, a slow Gospel hymn, and she brings down the house.

Ms. Houston clearly could have had a second career as a torch-song singer. Even though she lost her remarkable range in her 40s, she still could sing the pants off a song, as long as it was in the alto range. She sings this hymn with such profound soul that my entire audience burst into spontaneous applause when she finished. I've almost never heard anything like that in a movie theater.

I'm paying $200 a seat to see Barbra Streisand this fall (who's 70!). I would easily have paid $200 to watch Ms. Houston sing alto songs in 2012 had I been given the opportunity. Her ridiculously early death is a great loss for the world.

The greatest value "Sparkle" has is that it captures this spectacular artist in the last phase of her life. The movie is worth seeing anyway. But with the added value of Houston, it's a must-see for anyone who cares about great musical art.

Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

The original SPARKLE was set in 1950s Harlem, and this remake moves things to 1960s Detroit, perhaps to better link things to the Motown era and distance itself from DREAMGIRLS. Regardless, my experience with both films was rather similar. Not great by any means, but filled with wonderful moments and performances, some catchy (although a little too mid-tempo) songs, the newer version is worth seeing alone for Whitney Houston's last screen performance. Fully committed here, she vividly brings to life a controlling and churchgoing mother to three daughters who want to break out as a musical trio, ala THE SUPREMES. Remember, this story came first years before DREAMGIRLS, and it's all the more endearing as a result.

Let's start with the positives. In addition to Houston, who really does a blazingly good job here (just narrowly skirting campy DYNASTY territory here), we have Carmen Ejogo as Sister, the group's lead singer and lightning rod for T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Every second she's on screen, your eye immediately goes to her. She shows a LOT of range here, very similar to Diana Ross in LADY SINGS THE BLUES, and I felt for her every step of the way. Here's a future star worth watching. Cee Lo Green is natural and dynamic as a Club singer, and the numbers, the signature, "SOMETHING HE CAN FEEL", and Ejogo's first solo number, "YES I DO" are true standouts.

I hate to throw negatives at a film with such a good heart, but here goes. At times the film felt over-directed. One sequence in particular, limning Ejogo's downfall with an abusive husband felt slowed down to better emulate, what? The sword-and-sandals epic, 300? Most of the time, director Salim Akil keeps things wonderfully natural, so I won't harp on him experimenting stylistically every now and then. Jordin Sparks is definitely a better singer than actress (she Alicia Keyes the hell out of her big final numbers), and her performance is all kinds of bland. Sweet, endearing, but more Disney Princess than gritty urban dweller. Her chemistry with Derek Luke is so chaste that I wasn't convinced they ever even met each other, let along occupied the same scenes together. There are also times when the screenplay lurches around in such odd ways.

Then there's the elephant in the room. This film brings the church front and center, and go to great lengths to never disparage it, despite the Iron Lady actions of Houston's character. I appreciated very much that it wasn't a simple cut-and-dried attack, and that the daughters always seems to treat their disapproving mother with such respect. Personally, I would have preferred a little more grit in the debate, as it could have heightened the drama there a tad...but small complaints for a film with so much to offer. In VARIETY terms, I'd say" SPARKLE SPUTTERS BUT DOESN'T FLAME OUT". Tacky, but apropos.

Glenn Gaylord
Glenn Gaylord

Super Reviewer

Sparkle Quotes

Sister: Sister can't fly with only one wing!
– Submitted by Ross H (3 years ago)
Sparkle: All I think about is music.
– Submitted by Tiffany G (3 years ago)
Stix: Don't fall short because you can't admit that you want it.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
Emma: Keep dancing like that you will bring home some kid you can't feed.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)

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