Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody

Whitney Houston had one of the greatest voices music has ever heard. Her tragic death was a tremendous loss for everybody. We now have a new biopic telling her story. Well, sort of.

I Wanna Dance with Somebody tells the story of Whitney Houston (Naomi Ackie) and her rise to superstardom, accomplishing feats on the Billboard music charts that were not accomplished by The Beatles or Elvis Presley.

The music in this biopic is stunning. Whitney Houston’s voice was unbelievable and she consistently drove the narrative of her talent with performances that was completely awe-inspiring. Hearing the songs was worth the entire film.

However, the biopic part of the movie was a tad lacking. It was a basic timeline of her life, touching upon both the good and the bad without diving into anything too deeply. Houston’s whole tumultuous marriage and relationship with Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders) did not feel as if it was given the weight it should have been. Because of the lack of depth in any of the problems the singer faced downgraded the end result and made it more difficult to understand what happened to the singer.

As I watched the film, I enjoyed it enough. It is hard not to enjoy a film with such a powerhouse singer involved, but I do not feel as if I know Whitney Houston any better than I did before I watched it and I would not consider myself a large fan of her.

Naomi Ackie is amazing in the role of Whitney. She becomes the singer and it was hard, at times, to tell when they were using actual sounds of Whitney Houston. Reportedly, the film used Whitney’s voice about 95% of the time (according to IMDB) but Ackie is flawless with her performances.

When they allowed her to get into the role, she absolutely nailed it. A scene late in the film with Bobby Brown and Whitney’s best friend Robyn (Nafessa Williams) showed what Ackie was capable of doing. There was just not enough of that kind of moment.

Stanley Tucci was great in a supporting role as Whitney’s long time friend/producer/agent Clive Davis. Their relationship was fascinating and received more time than many of the other ones. Tamara Tunie was also really great as Whitney’s mother Cissy Houston. Her screen time was limited, but Tunie did a lot with what she was given.

In this movie, I was shown what a powerhouse of a singer Whitney Houston was, but I wanted to see what a powerhouse of a person she was and there was just not enough scenes like that in I Wanna Dance with Somebody. If you are a fan of Whitney Houston, this biopic is for you. If you are a fan of amazing music and singing, you can’t go wrong. If you don’t mind a basic, paint-by-numbers biopic, then this is also one for you. I would have liked some more.

3 stars

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