Several critics wonder in their reviews why they even bothered remaking the 1976 original version of Sparkle. "The '70s original was a dark, confusing mess, but the remake lacks the little soul it had," comments Wesley Morris in the Boston Globe . Likewise Peter Travers remarks in Rolling Stone "Whitney Houston deserved better than to go out onscreen with this botch job remake of a 1976 soap opera that never deserved another thought." The title role in the movie is performed by American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, but it is Houston who is the focus of many of the reviews -- and not necessarily approvingly. Writes Linda Barnard in the Toronto Star "Houston's acceptable performance ...is overshadowed by the ill health and raspy voice that shows in some scenes. ... Every scene Houston is in comes with the added distraction of her death, especially when she whispers to Sparkle that she'll sit in a back row of the theater when she sings 'so I don't upstage you.'" Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times refers to another "chilling line" in which Houston's character says to one of her daughters, "Was my life not enough of a cautionary tale for you?" Ebert definitely cuts Houston some slack, writing that "if her voice doesn't match her glory days, her presence certainly does." As for Sparks, most critics agree that her performance is adequate enough. Stephen Holden in The New York Times comments that she's "not much of an actress." However, he adds, she "has a wonderful voice. And in Sparkle's big final number at a preposterous solo concert debut with a full gospel choir, to a packed house after minimal preparation, she delivers."