A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sparkle is the 1976 movie with Irene Cara, not the remake with Whitney Houston. It doesn't gloss over the many potential obstacles on the road to fame: There are drug dealers, mobsters, and abusive boyfriends, all of whom might derail a talented singer's dreams, and the film shows all of their unsavory behavior. There's some drug use (including cocaine), plenty of smoking, and a good amount of drinking in bars and at dinner parties. There are also some brutal domestic-abuse scenes and occasional swearing (including the "N" word).
- Parents say
- Kids say
I enjoyed "Sparkle"! It was a modernized version of the original movie; yet, still has an interesting story line to keep you watching and wanting more even after the movie is over. A must see for all those who love this original movie. You will not be disappointed! I want to get the movie's soundtrack.
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What's the story?
Teenage SPARKLE (Irene Cara) dreams of stardom, and her boyfriend Stix (Philip Michael Thomas) is determined to make it happen by creating an all-girl singing act with Sparkle and her two sisters. The group is a success, but fame brings its own dangers, including unwanted attention from gangsters, ill-advised relationships with thugs, and the temptation of drugs. Yes, fame is at the end of this long and bumpy road, but it's not clear if eveyone in the film will make it there unscathed.
Is it any good?
Sparkle is an inspiring film, but also a predictable one. Cara and her sisters, especially Lonette McKee as the aptly-named Sister, shine on stage, and the musical numbers are excellent. Offstage, however, the story takes on a movie-of-the-week quality, as one character after another falls victim to the standard pitfalls of fame.
One gets involved with gangsters, another takes up with an abusive thug and gets hooked on drugs. Others give up on fame and decide to pursue other goals. Only Sparkle remains focused on her musical dreams, and after a second-act falling out, only Stix is there to guide her eventual rise to fame. The ending is satisfying, but was easy to predict almost from the very beginning.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the choices the three sisters make. How do the decisions they make affect their lives? How did Sparkle avoid the pitfalls her sisters didn't?
Do you think the film paints a realistic portrait of life in Harlem in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the connection between the entertainment business and organized crime?
Do you think this story is ready for a modern-day remake? Who would you cast as Sparkle?
- In theaters: April 7, 1976
- On DVD or streaming: January 2, 2007
- Cast: Irene Cara, Lonette McKee, Philip Michael Thomas
- Director: Sam O'Steen
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: February 06, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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