I saw Sparkle, the new movie starring the late Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks tonight. And I loved it. I knew the images and the stars would be beautiful and the movie delivered.
After the movie, there was so much to discuss with the friends who were with me. And that is a great thing – a movie that makes you keep thinking and turning the images and ideas over after the credits are done.
Here are 10 things I loved about it – the order is arbitrary and not meant to be a ranking:
1: The writing – Mara Brock Akil really did the dang thing. The writing was smart and assumed the audience was smart, too. The dialogue at the dinner table (with Mike Epps) is really what got me. I am going to try not to put spoilers in this list, so I won’t be very specific, but just say that when the DVD is available, that scene is worth playing over and over and discussing.
2. Whitney, of course. It’s wonderful to hear her sing, even knowing all that we know and how her story ended. And to see something that she helped bring to us is both wonderful and sad at the same time.
3. Mike Epps. He really was amazing as Satin. Satin is not a sympathetic character and yet Epps makes him so compelling.
4. Music. Of course the music was amazing. Mixing the classics with new songs worked so well. And when I heard “You’re All I Need To Get By” I thought, that’s really the only song that could play at this moment. Perfect.
5. Sisters. This only child was reminded of what I missed by not having sisters. I know even in the movie having sisters isn’t all rainbows and hugs. Still, I really wished for a sister when I was a kid and this movie made me remember that. Silly, but true.
6. The gospel choir. Gospel choirs are used in pop culture a lot, both in general fare and things aimed specifically at African American audiences. It’s not always done well and sometimes as a viewer it just feels like pandering. Got a story with black people in it? Add a gospel choir and you get instant emotion! That wasn’t the case in Sparkle. The use of gospel and gospel choirs works, didn’t feel like pandering to us and was just right.
7. Message. Definitely a movie with multiple messages – live your dreams, believe in yourself, don’t go for the fast life/fast money, etc.. The messages are given to us deftly in the story. It isn’t heavy handed and the path there doesn’t feel like a quick fix.
8. The rings. I can’t really say more than that (trying not to insert spoilers).
9. Ups and downs and surprises. A few surprises along the way (I’m thinking about Levi) to keep everything from being predictable.
10. I don’t really have a 10th thing, but I do know I want to see it again. So that’s reason no. 10 – because I usually don’t have that reaction.