Houston's performance proves that this could have been the first step not merely in a comeback but in a major re-invention. She had the instincts of a superb character actress.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
If the film is a sudsy show-business Cinderella story in which Emma's youngest daughter, Sparkle (Jordin Sparks), ascends to glory, Houston's presence makes it a cautionary tale.
Stephen Holden - New York Times
The melodramatic story is familiar, though the talented cast makes the most of rather tired material.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
"Sparkle" trafficks in the same gorgeous Motown style -- sonic and visual -- that made the original film, and "Dreamgirls" after it, such delectable fun.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
It's a better movie than what's inspired it, but that fails to explain much. It's like preferring the line at the concession stand to the one for the bathroom.
Wesley Morris - Boston Globe
The forebear's underwritten melodrama has been supplanted by Tyler Perry-like soap operatics and much jawing about the Lord, riots in the Motor City, marriage proposals, and maternal heartbreak and disapproval.
Melissa Anderson - Village Voice
A strong cast, empathetic direction and memorable soundtrack help create a movie that does everyone proud.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
...the movie is an unholy mess of awkward staging, uneven pacing, and contrived 'big scenes'...
Glenn Kenny - MSN Movies
Noteworthy only for featuring Whitney Houston's last screen appearance.
Bruce Diones - New Yorker
"Sparkle" isn't blindingly original but it delivers solid entertainment, and despite the cliches I was never for a moment bored.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
You know what? It works.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Where the original Sparkle was a ghetto melodrama with equal parts mob and music, the Akils have refashioned it into a saga of family rupture and reconciliation.
Carrie Rickey - Philadelphia Inquirer
As the insecure, innocent ingenue, Sparks, 22, seems a bit tentative at first. But like her character, she gains her footing.
Jon Bream - Minneapolis Star Tribune
It's nice that "Sparkle" honors the memory of Motown's heyday; if only it could have lived up to those standards.
Tom Long - Detroit News
"Sparkle" is pure melodrama, but it's a high-powered, well-acted, entertaining melodrama. You may not always believe it, but you won't be bored.
Randy Cordova - Arizona Republic
Sparkle deals in such well-worn rise-and-fall music-bio tropes that it's hard to blame it for simply coasting on narrative shorthand at times. But the lackadaisical storytelling can inch toward outright laziness.
Andrew Barker - Variety
Often seems like a flat, straightforward Supremes biopic in its adherence to seemingly pointless scenes and exposition.
Sara Stewart - New York Post
Tika Sumpter [is] the best actress of the three ...
Linda Barnard - Toronto Star
Generally improves on the source material as much as possible while still succumbing to some of the same hoary showbiz beats.
William Goss - Film.com
Anyone who has seen Dream Girls, What's Love Got To Do With It? or even The Doors will find themselves in familiar (if inferior) territory here ...
Courtney Shea - Globe and Mail
Sparkle is an assembly of parts and pieces from other, better movies - an overly familiar jumble of cliches mashed together.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
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.
Todd McCarthy - Hollywood Reporter
Sparkle, while occasionally silly in a way that made a preview audience titter, is decent entertainment.
Mary F. Pols - TIME Magazine
Whitney Houston deserved better than to go out onscreen with this botch job remake of a 1976 soap opera that never deserved another thought.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
Sparkle shamelessly piles on the cliches, but it's an entertaining ride throughout.
Richard Roeper - Richard Roeper.com
This is the second most embarrassing thing to happen to Whitney Houston this year.
Eric D. Snider - Pajiba
Wallowing in melodrama, the film's sole highlight is Whitney Houston's supporting turn in it.
John Hanlon - Big Hollywood
Whitney Houston's vibrant, final performance adds poignancy to this likeable, breezy remake of a familiar tale.
Ed Gibbs - The National
it is impossible not to think of the singers real life rise and fall. Whitney Houston's face does not disguise the descent. You can see the tracks of her tears. She looks a lot older than her 48 years.
Brian Henry Martin - UTV
An energetic cast and some terrific music make up for the rather hackneyed plot of this Dreamgirls-style drama. Remade from a 1976 film, the story is that familiar trajectory of musicians who achieve fame only to fall into a string of ugly problems.
Rich Cline - Contactmusic.com
Trite and predictable but the musical numbers have heart and there is a poignancy in seeing Houston one last time.
Allan Hunter - Daily Express
No one could make a case for this being other than fairly ordinary, but it is at least enjoyable.
Derek Malcolm - This is London
Some sparkle and plenty of motion.
James White - Empire Magazine
Sparkle isn't Dreamgirls - but fans of schmaltzy showbiz fairytales should enjoy it.
Ken McIntyre - Total Film
... transfers the 1976 cult hit from 1950s Harlem to '60s Detroit with faults and virtues intact.
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
'Sparkle' is a solidly, if not imaginatively, made showbiz tale that might have escaped notice had it not been for that fact that one if its stars, singer Whitney Houston, died after she completed her work in it.
Dan Lybarger - KC Active
While most people will focus on Sparks' acting debut or on Houston's touching final performance ... , the real fire comes from Ejogo's sultry and tough-minded performance as the down-but-never-out Sister.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
It isn't "Dreamgirls" but it is worth watching for Sparks, Ejogo and most of all Whitney.
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
Overcomes its overdone 'rising star' formula with surprising drama, decent songs,breakout performances and a haunting swan song of Whitney Houston.
Bruce Bennett - Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
Sparkle follows a music-industry hopeful getting her shine on, but there's a more interesting movie percolating along the edges of the frame.
Kimberley Jones - Austin Chronicle
A few exceptional musical performances don't mitigate an otherwise stale melodrama.
John Wirt - Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Sparkle never really gets big. It pretends to.
Norm Schrager - Paste Magazine
The story takes melodramatic turns that threaten to stray into camp, and newcomer Jordin Sparks as the reserved titular character doesn't have the finesse to avoid it.
Monica Castillo - Boston Phoenix
The drama becomes engulfed by too much 'melo' during Sister's story. You're better off listening on your own to the fantastic Motown sounds the film is based on.
Jeff Bayer - The Scorecard Review
The cliches are expected and could be forgiven if the movie ever departed from the standard template, even for a minute.
Robert Levin - Film School Rejects
"Sparkle" has some great moments sprinkled in with what is basically an ordinary story about the sisters' hopes and dreams.
David Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
Let's deal with the elephant in the room - the late Whitney Houston. Like Heath Ledger she has left us with a fine performance.
Michael A. Smith - MediaMikes
An ideal example of how a remake should be, not necessarily supplanting the original film but nicely complementing it.
Michael Dequina - TheMovieReport.com
An old-fashioned, entertaining backstage showbiz story, and ... with the passing of Houston there is, naturally enough, a melancholy undertone to the entire movie.
Richard Knight - Windy City Times
Sudsy and spirited, it's Whitney Houston's unintentional cinematic swansong.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
A must-see, between Whitney's sentimental Swan Song and Carmen's coming out party.
Kam Williams - AALBC.com
This 'Sparkle' version shines for its powerful performances by Houston, Ejogo, and Mike Epps, who nearly steals the entire film. The film is still formulaic, but there's enough material to have an enjoyable evening's entertainment.
Wilson Morales - BlackFilm.com
Whitney Houston's final film has some mature elements.
Sandie Angulo Chen - Common Sense Media
Is 'Sparkle' corny and predictable? Of course it is. It's also highly watchable and a good showcase for its principal cast members.
Leonard Maltin - Leonard Maltin's Picks
Sparkle is a series of soul-stirring Motown-style musical numbers constantly interrupted by cliche.
Steve Persall - Tampa Bay Times
Basically a musical sudser that would have seemed hokey even in the 1940s. But the music is often exhilarating.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
To have our last image of Whitney Houston come from this terrible, terrible movie is truly depressing.
Gary Wolcott - Tri-City Herald
The real find here is Sparks, the 'American Idol' winner making her big screen debut. There's no question that the camera loves her and viewers will be cheering her on.
Daniel M. Kimmel - New England Movies Weekly
Houston's presence makes a run-of-the-mill cautionary tale about rock and roll stardom feel deeply personal.
Matt Singer - ScreenCrush
A movie that doesn't quite live up to its own ambition
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
The characters are stock, and the story is a cliche-ridden morass of excess that builds to absurd proportions, and does so with a straight face.
Andrea Chase - Killer Movie Reviews
Slicker than the original, it is also less satisfying, erratic in pace and tone.
Rich Heldenfels - Akron Beacon Journal
When all is said and done, Sparkle might be one of those rare films that marks the very beginning and the very end of two special careers.
Mathew DeKinder - Suburban Journals of St. Louis
What initially looks like it might be a worthy follow-up to "Dreamgirls" turns into a fiasco of melodrama, overarching angst, family strife, over-acting, hordes of cliches and more. (Full Content Review for Parents also available)
Jim Judy - Screen It!
Energetic, colorful and packed with strong performances and musical numbers good enough to get by, "Sparkle" beams brightly.
Kevin C. Johnson - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Rather than a sing-along, consider this film a 'say-along,' with lines so cliched that you might find yourself reciting them in perfect sync with the flat characters.
Kimberly Gadette - Doddle
It's got some enjoyable music and Motown nostalgia, but what it's missing is anything especially original or groundbreaking.
Stephen Silver - EntertainmentTell
Better than the original, still a little worn.
Matt Pais - RedEye
The film's musical numbers are too few and too far between, which is unfortunate. More music and less story would have obscured many of the formulaic script's weaker points.
Bob Bloom - Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
A bright and breezy musical that puts a breath of spring in this clammy late-summer season.
It worked before, yet it fails miserably here, sure to leave fans of the original picture and Houston devotees with a pounding headache.
Brian Orndorf - Blu-ray.com
It's a fun, sudsy tale of show-biz ups and downs, with an endearing Sparks in the title role as one of three singing siblings in Motown-era Detroit.
Rafer Guzman - Newsday
A serious drama that works far better as an inadvertent comedy of filmmaking ineptitude.
The performances through "Sparkle" are strong - Sparks has a gentle, sweet little-sister quality that draws you to her, nicely balanced by Ejogo's smoldering fire - and the colorful 1960s costumes (by Ruth E. Carter) and elaborate hairstyles are a kick.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
Some intriguing themes about the racial conflicts of the era are raised almost in passing while the soapy parts of the story drag on. But the musical numbers raise the roof.
Nell Minow - Beliefnet
Like the film, Jordin Sparks is decidedly too wholesome and earnest to leave much of an impression.
Tim Grierson - Screen International
A memorial to -- and about -- Whitney Houston
Sara Maria Vizcarrondo - Boxoffice Magazine
[Sparks] has an appealing presence and an open, expressive face, but by design, the film keeps her passive and out of the spotlight until the finale.
Keith Phipps - AV Club
Tells a familiar story ... but does so with a surprising amount of compassion, a weary soul, and a soundtrack that encapsulates and recreates a musical era with verve.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
The one surprise: how ultimately satisfying it actually is.
Cathy Jakicic - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Sparkle" was made by smart people who built on their star's strengths, accounted for her weaknesses and didn't lean on her to carry the whole picture.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
There's too much going on, but the good stuff, led by the late Ms. I Wanna Dance With Somebody, is really good.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
The tale of Whitney Houston's swan song is familiar, but some of the musical numbers are vibrantly staged and performed by talented cast.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Whitney Houston's death is just about the only thing that gives the film real, albeit mostly unintentional, life.
Eric Henderson - Slant Magazine
The story is simplistic and the characters never become fully three-dimensional.
Liz Braun - Jam! Movies
It's been engineered as a vehicle for pop starlet Jordin Sparks. But...when the late Whitney Houston isn't upstaging the title character, the bombshell Carmen Ejogo ("The Brave One") is.
Sparkle is like watching a "highlights of" music special strung together by an afterthought-like storyline, albeit one advancing progressive role models.
Marsha McCreadie - Film Journal International
There may or may not be an actual movie hidden among all the showstopping musical numbers in Sparkle. Not that there needs to be.
Phil Villarreal - OK! Magazine