“Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is a sloppy powerpoint presentation on Whitney Houston’s life



Movie poster of Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Saanvi Arora, Staff Writer

Potential spoilers ahead for Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody

TW: mentions of substance abuse & suicide 

Whitney Houston is the most awarded female artist of all time, but Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody, does not deserve such accolades. The biopic was released on Dec. 23 and follows the life story of singer Whitney Houston, played by Naomi Ackie.

The film begins with a small clip of Houston’s performance at the 1994 American Music Awards, which ties into the ending of the film. It then flashes back to Houston being discovered and signed by Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci) in 1983 at just 19 years old. The audience is taken through Houston’s ups and downs in her career, until she tragically took her own life at and age of 48. Some parts of her life that are depicted are Houston’s heavy substance abuse and her troubled relationships with her father John Houston (Clarke Peters), husband Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders), and her assistant and creative director Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams).

Ackie portrayed Whitney Houston incredibly well, utilizing her powerful singing voice to elevate the film. Her mannerisms, facial expressions, and singing showed the actress’s dedication to capturing Houston perfectly. Houston was also brought back to life through the makeup and wardrobe choices made, which were crucial in helping the audience figure out a timeline. 

This movie had a lot of potential. It was an informative piece depicting the major events that happened in Whitney Houston’s life. I enjoyed the ending because I believe that they were able to portray the thoughts going through Houston’s head well, though I wish it could have been clearer. Additionally, there were several themes that I found interesting, such as Houston being the only black woman in that specific part of the industry or Houston not being able to accept her sexuality due to the religious household she grew up under. Had the movie gone more into depth with these, it would have been much more enjoyable. 

A biopic is typically a dramatization of the life of a historical or public figure. However, the film felt more like a powerpoint presentation on Houston’s life, instead of a biopic. The audience was quickly introduced to an event in her life, but then that topic was discarded and the movie quickly moved on. This left me feeling confused and wanting to see more. There was never any exploration into the topics discussed due to the amount of material the film tried to include, making it feel rushed and sloppy. 

Additionally, there were many times where I was watching scenes and wondered what purpose they held. While I could understand the importance of the scenes, I believe that there was no reason for so much time to be spent on them. The amount of time spent on these scenes required production to cut out vital parts necessary for a proper chronology. For example, I had not realized Houston had moved away from home until the movie’s midpoint because it was only shown in a 30 second clip. 

There were some themes and subplots throughout the movie that I thought were very interesting. However, many of them were discussed a lot in some places but seemingly forgot about later. For example, the movie heavily discussed the subplot of Whitney being in a relationship with her assistant and creative director Robyn Crawford. The beginning was primarily about this; however, after their break-up, we were left unsure of whether or not it was an actual relationship or just a fling. 

The biggest issue that I had with this movie was the large time jumps that it would make. Without any indication, it would fast forward 10 years without any time stamps. This left the audience having to use context clues like makeup and wardrobe to realize that there has been a time jump. This created confusion with the sequence of events, and difficulty to understand what was happening. 

Overall, this movie did not feel like it had an actual plot, and was instead just a timeline of events that occurred in Whitney Houston’s life. The over two-hour run-time was excessive for the lack of execution, considering I could have easily Googled “Whitney Houston’s life” and received the same results. 

I would recommend this film to those who are already familiar with Whitney Houston’s life story. I could imagine fans of Houston enjoying reminiscing on her life events, however, this would not be the right choice for those looking for a movie with an intriguing storyline. Additionally, the lack of exploration into topics would make it extremely confusing for those who would like to learn about Whitney Houston with no prior knowledge.