Follow TV Tropes


Film / Sparkle

Go To

Sparkle is a 1976 musical drama film written by Joel Schumacher and directed by Sam O'Steen, starring Irene Cara, Lonette McKee, and Dwan Smith as a singing trio of sisters and their turbulent rise in Harlem in the late 1950s.

A remake (updating the story to the late '60s) was released in 2012, directed by Salim Akil and starring Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, Whitney Houston, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, and Cee Lo Green.

Tropes used:

    open/close all folders 

     1976 film  
  • Beastly Bloodsports: We get a cock fight scene that Levi attends, we're also introduced to Satin in this scene.
  • But Now I Must Go: Sparkle does this when she starts to feel a bit uneasy being alone with Stix, especially after they kiss where she fears someone may see them.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Stix comes off as this early in the film. Though not necessarily like a Casanova, but more of a boy who has an innocent crush on a girl...complete with oddball behavior, compliments, and rather eager for a kiss.
  • Cool Big Sis: Sparkle notes that she looks up to Sister, and wants to be like her someday earlier in the film.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Sister gets hooked on cocaine and dies of an overdose.
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: The Sisters' mother is a Maid who works tirelessly for a white family in Long Island.
  • Faking Amnesia: Stix uses this vice to get five tickets to a show, but it first involved faking a dream of lottery numbers to score them.
  • First Kiss: Sparkle gets hers in the first 5 minutes of the film.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Sister fullstop. It really shows in the "Jump" scene.

     2012 film  
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Sister falls for Satin and rejects Levi who she was dating previously.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Playedfor Laughs when Satin says "Hail Mary" at the dinner table, Delores immediately corrects him and mentions that that's a Catholic term (while they are Baptists), he then follows up with "It's still Christian, isn't it?" followed by annoyed looks from the guests.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Well, Sister's not necessarily bad, but she's no saint, and she knows it. However, she's not obnoxious about it.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Satin. He even makes it clear that he does it for the money, although judging by his small circle of friends it may be his actual attitude towards his own people.
  • Broken Pedestal: After Levi makes his romantic gesture towards Tammy at the Coney Island, Satin makes his first (in-person) appearance, and Levi seems genuinely excited...then Satin shows his true colors and starts belittling Levi in front of Tammy...things go downhill from there.
  • Caught on Tape: The Sisters' performance opening for Aretha Franklin turns out to be live on local television, cue Emma waking from her slumber.
  • Clothing Damage: Sister does this using a knife to her dress in the beginning in an attempt to move the crowd. It works.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Sister/Tammy; it all truly starts once Satin introduces her to Cocaine...and then...
  • Crime of Self-Defense: How Sister/Tammy ends up in Prison. Though Delores was defending both Tammy and Sparkle from Satin, it still qualifies for self-defense either way.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: It's hinted at, and then leaned on throughout the film about Emma and the events she's endured trying to make it in the industry and during Sparkle and Delores's infantry.
  • Detroit: Where the film takes place as part of the Setting Update.
  • Disappeared Dad: Both Sparkle/Tammy's Dad and Delores's Dad is mentioned and photographs are seen early on, but nothing is explained on their current whereabouts.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Levi, somewhat. Sister dated him in the first part of the film, and claimed she actually liked him. But then, Satin enters.
  • Domestic Abuse: Satin to Tammy. Played for Drama as there's one scene where they leave Baker's after a failed show, and Satin chases her through the house (in slow motion, no less) and continues to chastise her with a belt.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: For people who've lived in Detroit during the era (and even now) will recognize Baker's, Cliff Bells, One Woodward Ave, Lafayette's Coney Island, the Dorothy Turkel House, The Fillmore Theatre, and so on...
  • Family Disunion: Maybe Sister shouldn't have brought Satin with her to the Sunday Dinner...just saying.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: There's a scene where Sparkle is at a Record Store, in her listening booth there's a record sleeve with "COLUMBIA" labeled across the top. Later on in the film, the girls are discovered by an executive from Columbia Records.
  • Generation Xerox: Tammy ends up enduring the same fate that her mother did, and a bit more since she ended up going to Prison.
  • Grass is Greener: Sister; she even makes an analogy that leans towards this after dumping Levi for Satin.
  • Humble Goal: Delores just wants to get into Meharry Medical School; nothing more, nothing less. She gets the scholarships and admission at the end and it's the last time we see her.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: We get this exchange early in the film:
    Tammy: Cliff Bells? Come on, I won't embarrass myself- didn't Marvin Gaye get booed out of there?
    Stix: Yeah, but that made him better, and now he's traveling the world and he's making millions!
    Tammy: Mr. Gordy is making millions.
    Stix: However it may be, it was enough to get him out of his mom's house.
    Tammy: don't have to be rude about it.
  • Moment Killer: Satin's many random appearances are this. He first does this at the Diner, when Levi is making his romantic gestures towards Tammy. Then a second time in the Dressing Rooms at Cliff Bell's. Then a THIRD time at the dinner table after the Preacher says grace. Not to mention how his appearances start off with offscreen laughter, followed by a snide remark.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Delores initial reaction to realizing that she killed Satin. Sparkle gets a bout of this when lamenting that if she weren't so timid then NONE of this would've happend. Tammy, puts them at ease and takes the fall.
  • The Remake: This version to the Original 1976 version.
  • The '60s: 1968 to be exact.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: After it all; Sparkle gets her second chance with Columbia Records, Delores gets accepted into Medical School, Sister learns her lesson and is optimistic about it, Stix and Sparkle get engaged (properly, this time), and Emma comes to terms with Sparkle's ambition and congratulates her success.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Levi, and Satin's female acquaintances. The last time we see Levi is when he is at Baker's with his new girlfriend heckling Satin's show. As for the latter, they pretty much left one after the other when Satin shows romantic interest in Tammy.
  • What Have I Become?: Tammy looks though old photos of her sexier self before and during the budding romance with Satin after her breakdown over his dead body. We're then taken to the rainy evening where she is escorted to jail, and Satin is carried in a body bag.