Release Date: August 17, 2012
Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic content involving domestic abuse and drug material, and for some violence, language and smoking
Genre: Drama/Musical
Run Time: 116 min.
Director: Salim Akil
Cast: Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, Whitney Houston, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Cee-Lo, Omari Hardwick, Curtis Armstrong, Tika Sumpter)

Like This is Spinal Tap, Swingers and Office Space, the original Sparkle, released in 1976, was really more of a cult classic than a bona fide box office hit.

But for those who loved it, and trust me, there are several spirited discussions raging online about its many, many merits as we speak, they don’t exactly envision a remake winning them over—even if it is the late Whitney Houston’s last movie.

It’s never a small task to update something so near and dear to moviegoers’ hearts (last year’s Footloose, anyone?), but Sparkle still has several flashes of brilliance. For one, the casting of “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks was a truly inspired choice.

Let’s just say when you’re competing for screen time with a character possessing as much va-va-voom as Sister (Carmen Ejogo, Away We Go) and you’ve got a diva like Whitney playing your disapproving Mama, it wouldn’t be easy to stand out. But without even an ounce of hamminess in her big-screen debut, Sparks manages to do just that with an accomplished performance that seamlessly segues from wide-eyed ingénue to full-blown superstar by film’s end.

Now, of course, anyone who’s seen an episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music” won’t probably be all that surprised by the twists and turns on the road to stardom in Sparkle. The requisite sex, drugs and drama all make memorable cameos. What’s missing in inspired plotting, however, is mostly made up in colorful musical performances that will, no doubt, have you tapping your feet from start to finish.

Set in Detroit during the reign of Motown, Sparkle is the story of three sisters with dreams of grandeur. While the brainy sister Delores (Tika Sumpter, Think Like a Man) sees potential stardom as nothing more than money for medical school, her sisters, the rebellious sexpot Sister and the truly talented but meek singer/songwriter, Sparkle, can’t wait to see their name in lights.

Trouble is, their mom, who’s faced her own share of setbacks both personally and professionally as a wannabe singer, is anything but supportive. But with an effective system in place, namely sneaking out after Mom falls asleep, the girls seem to be going places as the budding trio Sister & the Sisters. With a trustworthy manager (Derek Luke, Seeking a Friend For the End of the World), a rarity in the often-shady music biz, now generating label interest on their behalf, their dreams actually seem closer than ever. The story establishes early on, though, that Sister is a bit of a wildcard. So it’s not really all that surprising that things don’t proceed as planned—especially when Sister starts falling for Satin (Mike Epps, The Hangover), an opportunistic slimeball who woos her with fancy jewelry and even bigger promises.