WHITNEY HOUSTON: I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY
(director: Kasi Lemmons; screenwriter: Anthony McCarten; cinematographer: Barry Ackroyd; editor: Daysha Broadway; music: Chanda Dancy; cast: Naome Ackie (Whitney Houston), Stanley Tucci (Clive Davis), Ashton Sanders (Bobby Brown), Tamara Tunie (Cissy Houston), Bria Danielle Singleton(Bobbi Kristina)Tanner Beard (Gunther), Daniel Washington (Gary Houston), Nafessa Williams (Robyn Crawford), Clarke Peters (John Houston); Runtime: 146; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Clive Davis/Anthony McCarten/Patricia Houston/Larry Mestel/Denis O’Sullivan/Jeff Kallighen/Matt Jackson/Molly Smith/Trent & Thad Luckinbill/Matthew Salloway/Christina Papagjika; TriStar Pictures; 2022)
“A star-driven musical biopic of the woman considered to possess the best voice of her generation.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A star musical biopic of the woman considered to possess the best voice of her generation. It’s effectively directed by Kasi Lemmons (“Harriet”/”Black Nativity”), as it hits most of the right spots musically and artfully tells of the meteoric rise to fame of Whitney Houston after discovered in the 1980s by the music executive Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci) of Arista Records.
It features some of Whitney’s terrific songs, and stars the Brit actress Naome Ackie who does a great job portraying her.
The writer Anthony McCarten presents a curious screenplay by giving her life a coherent turn, which is not nearly as interesting as her messy drug-addled life–that impacted some listless performances and poor life decisions. The director and writer attribute her downfall to falling for the wrong guy (Ashton Sanders), and also say she was too weak to kick her drug habit.
Like its subject, the enjoyable film has its problems: as it fails to tell us too many things about her serious life problems, and its dramatics were lacking at times.
Highlights show Whitney brilliantly singing in her own stylish way “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 1991 Super Bowl.
We also hear her belt out at the 1994 American Music Awards three of her popular songs: “I Loves You, Porgy,” “And I’m Telling You That I’m Not Going,” “I Have Nothing”.
Though this less than fulfilling film fares worse than the more raw and moving Whitney 2018 documentary from director Kevin Macdonald, yet it’s still pleasurable just to hear her sing.
REVIEWED ON 12/23/2022 GRADE: B-