The new biopic, Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody, was released on December 23rd. Naomi Ackie steps into Houston’s very large shoes. Playing her equally famous mother Cissy is Tamara Tunie. Supporting her career is legendary record producer/mentor Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci). The film (directed by Kasi Lemmons) follows her life and career from her late teens (when she signed her first contract) to her iconic songs to her tragic death in 2012.
There are good and bad aspects to the film. Ackie disappears into her character. Like Austin Butler in Elvis, she becomes Houston. There is little differentiation between the actor and the person they are playing. The music, as expected, is fantastic. I found myself singing along to the film.
One thing that surprised me was her long-time relationship with Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams). Though it started out as friendship/romance, it became a professional partnership when it became clear that it would impede Houston’s professional orbit.
The bad is that the narrative slows down considerably during the second half of the movie. While it hit all of the expected story points, it was just a little too cliche for me.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody is available in theaters.