The Sweet Inspirations ranked as one of the most important backup singing groups in record-industry history, having performed with Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Dionne Warwick, Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, the Drifters, Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield and Elvis Presley. Yet, aside from an occasional still photograph, not a single frame of archival footage from their illustrious careers shows up in “This Time.” Instead, Victor Mignatti’s low-rent effort chronicles the making of an Inspirations indie comeback album produced by aspiring songwriter Peitor Angell. Absent any larger historical context, this downbeat docu has a dim outlook.
Mignatti’s cameras roll as original member Cissy Houston (Whitney’s mother) is persuaded to rejoin the Inspirations, her presence only deflecting attention from the group when the record company touts the album as hers. The helmer further sidelines the Sweets by bundling their last-chance album attempt with another would-be comeback venture, an Angell-produced CD by homeless disco diva Pat Hodges. Rounding out this dismally intercut gallery of the no longer or not yet successful, pic profiles earnest Gotham bartender/cabaret singer Bobby Belfry, who has yet to see his career blossom, and claims no connection to the Sweets whatsoever.