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. It's just about watchable, but what makes it notable is that it features Whitney Houston in her last film role.
It's set in 1968 Detroit, where Sister (Ejogo) is determined to become a star. Her singer-songwriter sister Sparkle (Sparks) is the one with real talent, but she's happy to stay in the background with their other sister Dee (Sumpter). As Sister and Her Sisters, they are managed by Stix (Luke), a fast-talking charmer who falls for Sparkle. But the girls' intensely religious mother (Houston) is under no illusions: she has been there, done that and continually warns her daughters that they shouldn't go the same way she did. But of course, they have to live their messy lives themselves.
Since it's such a familiar story, the film has a cheesy, soapy feel to it, playing on the sisters' rebellion against their religious upbringing. Of course, danger is represented in the men they fall for. While good-girl Sparkle tries to keep Stix at arms' length for awhile at least, Sister must choose between two men: the poor but nice Levi (Hardwick) and the flashy but drug-addled Satin (Epps). Since we know that she will choose the wrong guy, we know it's not going to be a happy journey for her. But this trawl through the dark side gives Ejogo a chance to steal the film with a much more emotionally charged performance.
Continue reading: Sparkle Review
Now a college graduate, Princess Mia (Anne Hathaway) has returned to her home country of Genovia to celebrate her 21st birthday. According to Genovian law, she is eligible to replace her widely popular grandmother (Julie Andrews) as the queen. Unfortunately for the young Mia, the law also states that a princess must be married before she is crowned. Complicating matters further, Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies) demands that his nephew Sir Nicholas (Chris Pine) is the rightful heir to the throne. What's a princess to do?
Continue reading: The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement Review
This is someone who should not be the lead role in a movie about puberty blues, but here she is. In Garry Marshall's latest outing, The Princess Diaries, Hathaway plays a smart, gawky 10th grader who learns she is the heir to the throne of a small European country.
Continue reading: The Princess Diaries Review
Miracle's focuses falls heavily on coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), both in how he chooses his players and how he re-trains them to play his way en route to the winter Olympic games in Lake Placid, N.Y. Brooks preaches team chemistry to his players, but it's the cast that catches on. Miracle isn't a movie of individuals, it's the perfect combination of unknown actors and veteran stars.
Continue reading: Miracle Review
Based on Ann Brashares' novel, Pants focuses on four 16-year-olds, all lifelong friends. Bridget (Blake Lively) is the go-getter of the bunch and a soccer star in the making; Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) is a sarcastic, wannabe filmmaker who favors black on her clothes and blue in her hair; Lena (Alexis Bledel) is the prudent one of the bunch; and Carmen (the outstanding America Ferrera), the narrator, is an aspiring writer and the only one whose body actually has curves.
Continue reading: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Review