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Sparkle Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Better--but much sadder--than 1976. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Shines brightest during its musical numbers.

    Read Full Review

  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Sparkle is never more than an overheated mediocrity. The one thing it isn't, however, is dull.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    The look, styles, dialogue and attitudes all feel more 21st century than 1968, but this new Sparkle still sparkles more brightly than its 1976 namesake, which was a sort of rough draft for Dreamgirls.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Sparkle isn't blindingly original but it delivers solid entertainment, and despite the clichés I was never for a moment bored.

    Read Full Review

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Whitney Houston's final film has some mature elements.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Sparkle is a remake of a '70s melodrama about the many travails that face those who seek fame and fortune in the music industry. Starring late pop superstar Whitney Houston (in her final film) and former American Idol champion Jordin Sparks, the period showbiz drama will appeal to both young Idol and older Houston fans. Like most showbiz industry tales, Sparkle has a fair amount of substance use (alcohol and drugs) and sexuality (passionate foreplay, revealing outfits, and discussion of adultery, premarital sex, and teen pregnancy). Even more unsettling is the portrayal of an abusive marriage that shows a couple hitting and hurting each other (the wife-beater is eventually killed in self defense). Despite the more intense elements, though, Sparkle is ultimately inspiring for young artists who want to reach for the stars.

  • Families can talk about Sparkle's messages about the entertainment industry. How does a glimpse of fame and fortune change characters? Why does Sparkle respond differently to the prospect of the music industry than her older sister does?
  • How is domestic abuse portrayed here? Does the fact that a comedian plays the violent husband take away from the severity of the subject?
  • Emma is a strict mom, but she has her rules for a reason. How does her emphasis on family, faith, and education reach each of her girls differently? Do you think parents are stern for good reasons?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: While there are some cautionary messages about marrying for money, allowing yourself to stay in an abusive relationship, and even not supporting your kids' passions, there are also positive themes. Sparkle, Stix, and Dolores all have big dreams: to make music and to become a doctor, respectively. Their journeys are filled with ups and downs, but none of them gives up, and by the end of the movie, they've all accomplished their goals.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Despite the two self-destructive characters, Sister and Satin, Sparkle does have several positive role models. Dolores considers singing a means to the end of getting into a good medical school and becoming a doctor; she's grateful for her mother's strict encouragement of education. Sparkle follows her dream of becoming singer-songwriter without being disrespectful to her mother. Emma seems overly rigid, but she realizes she shouldn't squash her daughter's dreams.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Domestic abuse is depicted; soon after their marriage, Satin begins to hit Sister, who fights back. Satin also strikes Sparkle across the face. Characters are shown with bruises on their face and body. Two men nearly come to blows at a nightclub. During a climactic fight, a character is killed in self defense.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Sister exudes sexuality with her sultry mode of singing, her barely there clothes, and her provocative dancing (the other two sisters are considerably more demure). In a couple of marital love scenes, Sister and Satin grope and kiss each other passionately while wearing nightclothes/lingerie. Sparkle and Stix kiss and flirt, and Sparkle mentions that she's a virgin. Emma mentions teenage hormones, premarital sex, and illegitimate children.

  • language false3

    Language: Occasional strong language and insults, including a couple uses of "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "ass," "damn," "goddamn," "oh my God," "hell," "whore," and "jerk." Also some racial slurs, such as "Sambo" and "coon," said by African-American characters.

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Mentions of Barry Gordy, Motown, Columbia Records, and Cadillacs.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: In addition to drinking in nightclubs and parties, Sister's husband introduces her to cocaine and heroin and overindulging in alcohol. She becomes the cautionary-tale junkie by the end of the movie. Several characters smoke cigarettes -- from a mother to clubgoers.