Sparkle parents guide

Sparkle Parent Guide

These characters share a flesh and blood bond that adds a deeper layer to their work relationship. Yet even these loving familial ties won't give this script enough sparkle for many family viewers.

Overall C+

Fame sparkles for three sisters (Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, and Tika Sumpter) as they climb the music charts during the 1960s. But their good fortune exacts a toll on their family relationships.

Release date August 17, 2012

Violence C+
Sexual Content C+
Profanity C
Substance Use D

Why is Sparkle rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Sparkle PG-13 for mature thematic content involving domestic abuse and drug material, and for some violence, language and smoking.

Run Time: 116 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

Sparkle is the kind of story we want to believe can happen—a young girl with talent and tenacity overcomes obstacles to achieve her dream. Unfortunately a good voice isn’t always enough to command the type of attention necessary to make it in the music business. So once the singer and her sisters start performing in front of an audience, their Sunday church dresses just don’t cut it.

In one evening gown with a neckline best described as “low and behold”, Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) belts out an amazing number she has written. But viewers may be too distracted by the possibility of a wardrobe malfunction to fully appreciate her musical range.

The story, a remake of the 1976 film of the same name, focuses on three siblings living in Detroit in the late 60s. Despite their single mother’s (Whitney Houston) troubled past as an aspiring but ultimately unsuccessful soloist, the family lives in an upper scale home, even owning a color television.

Because of her own career disappointments, Emma restricts her daughters’ musical participation to singing in the church choir. But that doesn’t’ stop the girls, Sparkle, Sister  (Carmen Ejogo) and Delores (Tika Sumpter), from sneaking out of the house on a regular basis to check out more worldly tunes. It also doesn’t discourage Sparkle from penning pages of pop songs in an old notebook.

After watching Sister perform one of Sparkle’s numbers at a nightclub (in a sensual staging that hardly requires lyrics to get her meaning across), a budding musical manager, Stix (Derek Luke), approaches them. Hoping to cash in on the popularity of girl groups, he wants to help them form a trio with Sister as the lead and Sparkle and Delores as backup singers.

However as their popularity grows so does Sister’s interest in Satin (Mike Epps), a high-rolling black comedian that whisks the lead vocalist off her feet when he proposes marriage. But the pairing isn’t a good one. Before long, Sister starts coming to work with obvious signs of domestic and drug abuse that threaten the siblings’ future.

Still what may be most disappointing, especially for parents of Jordin Spark’s fans who want to see the American Idol winner in her first movie, is the fact the girls seem to need increasingly revealing clothing to ensure their success. Other concerns include the repeated use of illegal drugs and alcohol, frequent smoking, an accidental death and a string of profanities.

From an artistic perspective, the film suffers from pacing problems, dragging in some places while racing through other scenes without giving adequate background information to justify decisions. And while the three young actresses put in strong performances, Houston’s final film appearance is hauntingly predictive when Emma refers to her life as “a cautionary tale”.

Unlike the fame-seeking singing trio in Dreamgirls (starring another American Idol participant Jennifer Hudson), these characters share a flesh and blood bond that adds a deeper layer to their work relationship. Yet even these loving familial ties won’t give this script enough sparkle for many family viewers.

Directed by Salim Akil . Starring Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, Whitney Houston, Derek Luke, Whitney Houston. Running time: 116 minutes. Theatrical release August 17, 2012. Updated

Rating & Content Info

Why is Sparkle rated PG-13? Sparkle is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic content involving domestic abuse and drug material, and for some violence, language and smoking.

Violence: Girls disobey their house rules and sneak out on multiple occasions. A woman swats a man who is talking in church. Men have a fistfight and must be pulled apart. A woman is repeatedly subjected to spousal abuse resulting in black eyes, cuts, bruises and lacerations. A man hits women and knocks them to the ground. A character is hit in the back of the head and killed with a fireplace poker.  

Sexual Content: A character comments on rumors about a woman’s bad reputation. A mother uses sexually derogatory terms to describe her daughter and a man.  A naked mannequin is briefly shown. Several characters verbally argue. Couples kiss. One is shown in a passionate embrace. Brief sexual innuendo is included in the script. Characters frequently wear suggestive or revealing clothing.

Language: The script contains terms of Deity, scatological slang, infrequent cursing, some ethnic slurs and brief sexual references.

Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters use illegal drugs on several occasions. Smoking and alcohol use are frequently depicted in this period piece.

Page last updated

Sparkle Parents' Guide

Emma wants her daughters to see her singing aspirations as a cautionary tale for their own lives. Does the script justify her reasons for completely turning her back on performing? What other ways could she have acknowledged her daughters’ talents while helping them avoid the pitfalls she experienced? Do her actions at the end of the movie seem realistic?

Delores performs CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) in the movie. Get the history of this lifesaving procedure from the American Heart Association.

How does Sister treat her boyfriend Levi (Omari Hardwick)? What qualities does she fail to appreciate about him? Why is she attracted to Satin? Does her worry about her age play a role in her decision or would she likely have made the same choice at any time of her life?

Sparkle learns to face her lack of confidence. How important is that in comparison to her natural musical talent? What other qualities, beyond raw talent, does a person need to be successful?

Whitney Houston, who passed away in February 2012, makes one of her last public appearances in this film.

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Sparkle movie is November 29, 2012. Here are some details…

Home Video Notes: Sparkle

Release Date: 30 November 2012

Sparkle releases to Home Video ion DVD or Blu-ray. Bonus extras include:

Sparkle on DVD:

- Director’s Commentary

- Two Featurettes: A Tribute to Whitney Houston and A Dream Come True

Sparkle on Blu-ray:

- Director’s Commentary

- Four Featurettes: A Tribute to Whitney Houston, A Dream Come True, A Sparkling Performance and Sparkle and Shine.

- “Hooked On Your Love” – Extended Performance

- Music Video for “Celebrate” by Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks

Related home video titles:

Motown makes superstars of another trio in the movie Dreamgirls. The fickle nature of stardom is also explored in the films Fame and Glitter. To learn more about the Detroit music scene, see the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown.

Related news about Sparkle

10 Famous Faces We Lost in 2014

10 Famous Faces We Lost in 2014