The Greatest of All Time. The Voice. Those are only some of the words that are used to sum up Whitney Houston. At the age of nineteen, Houston signed with Arista Records and the rest was history. Going on to win countless awards including six Grammys, she is one of the bestselling musical artists of all time.
When I watch a biopic, it is usually for one of two reasons: either I am a fan of the person in question and want to see their life played out on screen, or I know about said person, but not nearly as much as I probably should and I want to learn more. The latter is what occurred with I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Of course I knew of Houston and her iconic voice, but there was a lot that I didn’t know about her too. I was hoping the film would help shed some light on that.
Naomi Ackie starred as our leading lady and she was absolutely dazzling in the role. Not only did she resemble Houston in looks, she nailed those dramatic sequences and sold every musical number. It was hard to believe that wasn’t her actual voice, although let’s be real, would we want a movie about Whitney Houston without her actual voice? The rest of the cast gave brilliant performances as well. Stanley Tucci as agent Clive Davis, Ashton Sanders as husband Bobby Brown and Nafessa Williams as best friend Robyn in particular were standouts.
While the run time is a little long, I have to say that I only started feeling it around the two hour mark. At least we were treated with full musical performances – that medley at the AMAs still gives me goosebumps – and not snippets of them. Unfortunately it did feel as though some integral moments in the star’s life were cut short. There was obviously a lot they wanted to shine a light on, but some parts were skipped over rather quickly. I can’t help but wonder if a limited series would have been better suited to properly tackle the material.
That being said, I Wanna Dance With Somebody was a rather enjoyable, if not a completely heartbreaking story. The performances were knockouts and the music had me singing and dancing in my seat. Definitely a great last movie to see in the cinema this year!