Movie Review: I Wanna Dance with Somebody (2022)

Now in theatres.

A new biopic spans three octaves and a major second with a wide range of major music hits and a double dose of love interests. Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody (B-), directed by Kasi Lemmons, features a lovely titular performance by Naomi Ackie and a paint-by-numbers chronicle of life events that only occasionally transcends the Wikipedia entry of same. Nafeesa Williams is engaging as Robyn Crawford, Whitney’s former girlfriend and assistant, and the usually reliable Ashton Sanders is fine in a fleeting and underwritten part as husband Bobby Brown. Stanley Tucci fares much better with some authentic moments as producer Clive Davis opposite the singing superstar. Lemmons does strong work re-creating some of the most triumphant musical moments of Houston’s oeuvre and is a bit less successful in tracing her Icarus-style flirtation with dangerous drugs and relationships cutting short the iconic voice of a generation. Although she doesn’t resemble her real life character and lip syncs her vocals, Ackie is very believable in the role and is one of the very best elements of the movie, barreling past plot holes with finesse. The director’s reenactment of some live singing moments stretches out the film’s run time and short-changes several intriguing subplots. Still, if you go to the film for performances and songs, they’re there in all their entertaining glory along with sequins and sweatsuits, and it’s a highly watchable if not all that original true story. As a tribute to Miss Houston, it’s not all right, but it’s okay.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.