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(Familiar star story with great music)

The music gets five stars, but the story is pretty familiar. A vehicle for "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks, "Sparkle” doesn't always sparkle.

Three sisters grow up in Detroit under the firm hand of a domineering single mother (Whitney Houston's final performance). They sneak out at night to sing in local bars and eventually on bigger stages as they become more popular.

Their mother falls asleep on the couch, waking up one night to see them on TV. She lays down the law: obey me or get out. Sister (Carmen Ejogo) hooks up with a stand-up comic (Mike Epps) and splits, only to be abused by him.

Sparkle (Sparks) and Dolores choose to stay, but they still sneak out. The fact that they are old enough to leave makes the situation hard to believe, along with the sternness but obliviousness of their mother.

The incredibly shy Sparkle writes the songs for the group, with Dolores taking the lead singer role. Their manager falls madly in love with Sparkle, but she refuses to run away with him, choosing to remain under the rule of her mother.

The movie plays out like a bad soap opera, interrupted occasionally by some great music. Sparks proves why she was a worthy winner of “American Idol.”

Rated PG-13, with drug use and violence.


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