Reviewed by: Brian C. Johnson
music in the Bible
how to overcome issues that tear families apart
using illegal drugs
mother who is strict with her children to keep them from repeating her mistakes
What advice do you have for new and growing Christians? Answer
How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer
How can I decide whether a particular activity—such as smoking, gambling, etc.—is wrong? Answer
SCANTY DRESS—Why are humans supposed to wear clothes? Answer
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
How much is becoming worldly famous really worth? What are its terrible dangers?
Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
How good is good enough? Answer
|Featuring:||Brely Evans … Tune Ann
Mike Epps … Satin
Whitney Houston … Emma
Curtis Armstrong … Larry
Derek Luke … Stix
|Director:||Salim Akil—“Jumping the Broom ”|
|Producer:||Akil Production Company
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE)
|Distributor:||TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures|
“Was my life not enough of a cautionary tale for you?” is easily one of the most poignant lines in recent movie history. Spoken from a concerned Christian mother to her daughters whose dreams of fame and stardom (and “escape” from mother’s watchful eyes) were causing them to sneak out of the house to perform in seedy night clubs. The fact that the late Whitney Houston uttered these words is eerily prophetic.
In “Sparkle,” Houston plays Emma Anderson, a former singer who has tasted the forbidden fruit of the wanna-be-a-star life of the Detroit music scene in the 1960s. Raising three daughters to be God-fearing and God-serving isn’t easy for Emma, especially now that they are each young adult women who want to begin making decisions for themselves. These women: Tammy (Carmen Ejogo), Dee (Tika Sumpter), and Sparkle (American Idol winner, Jordin Sparks) want to form a girl group to rival Diana Ross and the Supremes, but Emma has no desire to let her girls go without a fight for their souls. Tammy (otherwise called Sister) has already been out in the world and has reluctantly come back home for respite; Dee has capital dreams—she only wants the fame to be able to pay for medical school; Sparkle, the true talent, however, wants to share her musical gift with the world. Each is willing to make huge sacrifices to make their dreams come true, but fame costs. Can Sister and Her Sisters (the name of their group) make it to the top without losing it all?
I will be honest, I was prepared to dislike this movie before I walked into the theater. Having long been a fan of the original from the 1970s starring Irene Cara as the title character, I was “sure” to hate this movie. Boy, was I wrong in my prejudice. While this iteration does not seem as gritty as the original (this may be merely related to advanced technologies), “Sparkle” drew me in and held me until the very end. Sparks seems a fitting choice to step in the shoes of Irene Cara; she emits a radiance that Cara did not, and I was drawn into her smile and into her dreams of stardom. Houston exudes a middle-aged maturity that seems to have escaped her in real-life—such poise and grace and wisdom. It is no wonder that many are calling this her comeback moment. She made me believe that God could change a heart and transform a broken past! Her rendition of “His Eye is on the Sparrow” iss nothing short of amazing!
“Sparkle” fits well within the quest-for-musical-stardom genre: drugs, violence, and sexuality are the entrance fees to the dream. Emma tries to help her daughters follow the Hebrews 12:1 example of not following in her bad footsteps, but the girls are determined to believe that Emma is holding them captive. The film also captures well the experience of many singers who began singing in the church, but left the choir robes to don much more revealing apparel. The more successful Sister and Her Sisters got, the less clothes they were wearing.
Spiritually, there is plenty going on here, and this is no surprise, given that megachurch leader Bishop T.D. Jakes is involved with the production. “Sparkle” believes that her musical talents are a gift from God; Emma does, too. She just wants Sparkle to sing in the church. Emma has three principles. She wants her daughters to serve God, get an education, and to respect themselves and others. Go against these principles, and it’s out you go! Sparks proudly announces her virginity to a recording executive; this is refreshing, especially given that a large part of the storyline is her blossoming romantic relationship with the group’s manager, Stix (Derek Luke).
The film earns a PG-13 rating for “mature thematic content involving domestic abuse and drug material, and for some violence, language and smoking.” Oddly, the rating does not include the sensuality and sexuality. It should. There are no scenes with nudity, but the suggestive clothing and sexualized dance moves definitely are red flags.
I really liked this movie, but Christian viewers should proceed with caution. Adults should definitely see it first to determine its appropriateness for their children and teens.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate—OMG (5), G-damn (2), “Good G_d,” slang words for sex (“do” and “whore”), s-words (2), bull-sh_t, hell (5), damn (5), ass (4) / Sex/Nudity: Moderate to heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.