WHITNEY HOUSTON: I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY
Starring: Naomi Ackie, Stanley Tucci, Ashton Sanders, Tamara Tunie, Nafessa Williams, Clarke Peters, Daniel Washington, Bailee Lopes, Bria Danielle Singleton, JaQuan Malik Jones, Kris Sidberry, and Dave Heard
Director: Kasi Lemmons
I Wanna Dance with Somebody does not have an identity. It goes through the motions of biopic tropes in chronicling the rise and fall of pop superstar Whitney Houston (Naomi Ackie), but it doesn’t actually have anything important to say about her or a viewpoint from which to approach her story. Ackie works in the part, but it’s not exactly transformative material. Thankfully, the film does touch on Houston’s love life as being not entirely straight, so that’s not hidden from the audience; however, what is hidden is a sense of purpose as to why the film was made beyond “we haven’t done Whitney yet.”
I Wanna Dance With Somebody is yet another chapter in the “bland musical biopic” series of films. It lacks any semblance of nuance or dedication while being a great Naomi Ackie performance away from being the non-parody version of Walk Hard. I learned nothing new about Whitney Houston (Ackie), and whereas previous by-the-numbers musical biopics like Elvis or Bohemian Rhapsody had flashy stylistic choices, this film is stale, dull, and lifeless throughout. Whitney Houston deserves much better than this trash.