Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody Review: Naomi Ackie steals the show in this formulaic biopic

Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody Review: Naomi Ackie steals the show in this formulaic biopic

Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody Review: Naomi Ackie steals the show in this formulaic biopic

Name: Whitney Houston: Someone I Want To Dance With

Director: Kasi Lemon

Mould: Naomi Aeki

Rating: 3 / 5

English language


The film begins in New Jersey in 1983, before record executives discover 20-year-old Houston at a local performance. But before that, we take a look at young Whitney (Naomi Aeki), who performs in the church choir while she is strictly coached by her mother, the famous gospel singer Sissy (Tamara Tunney). Her father, John (Clark Peters), on the other hand, is a road manager who would later run her business as she becomes one of America’s top entertainers. A significant portion of Whitney’s early life also centers on her first meeting with Robin Crawford (Nafessa Williams), with whom she eventually begins a relationship that later becomes her friend and manager. The film follows Houston’s growing appeal after Arista Records president Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci) signs her as an artist, a response she receives for “not being black enough” with her music and later also in her Personal life. She is married to Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders). After capturing her rise to the top of her own, the film chronicles her downfall after dealing with her drug addiction.


Whitney Houston was an artist whose voice could create magic in such a way that she could make you cry with her emotional numbers and also make you dance like no one was watching her rhythm-filled numbers. The vocal range wielded by Houston was simply unmatched and so are all the accolades and records she has achieved in her career and while that is a legacy worth celebrating, making a biopic that puts all the spotlight on her could be a little unfair Whitney’s life was shrouded in controversy, and unfortunately her stardom also coincided with a time in America when tabloid journalism and celebrity gossip were becoming the new norm. The singer’s life has been the subject of documentaries before and in her latest effort, director Kasey Lemmons tries to celebrate the icon again and doesn’t quite succeed.

Speaking of Whitney Houston: I want to dance with whoever seems most dissatisfied with how she handles deadlines. While Whitney’s musical contributions are respected, the film never delves into the person behind the artist. The movie feels like a retelling of an artist’s journey from achieving massive success to a tragic end without any personal history. While the film hits all the stops by recreating Houston’s key moments, the most difficult parts of her life are only mentioned. The criticism of the media, her discussion of her sexuality, her encounter with her addiction are elements that intermingle but are never adequately addressed during the course of the film.

Moments that stand out in the film include Whitney’s performance at the Super Bowl, as well as a recreation of the final medley. It is an absolute pleasure to listen to the remastered versions of her songs in their entirety. Knowing full well how the film ends in tragedy, each performance feels special and Naomi Ackie makes sure to give her best in every scene. It’s especially spectacular how Aki will bring tears to your eyes in the footage that captured Houston’s performance on Oprah.

Points in favor:

If there is something that absolutely surprises this film, it is the cast. Aki not only delivers a moving performance, but also has a strong supporting cast of Stanley Tucci, Tamara Tunney, and Clarke Peters that uphold the potential of the film’s script. The scenes between Ekki and Tuni are worth watching and the way they highlight the complex mother-daughter dynamic is remarkable. Tucci gives a nuanced performance as Houston’s manager that shines in the scene where he confronts her about her drug abuse.

Bad points:

Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody suffers from a problem that most biopics have nowadays in that it doesn’t know how to be completely true to its theme. The film finds a formulaic way of telling Houston’s story when she could have had a deeper focus given her imposing personality and her troubled life. Instead, the movie simply glosses over the demons Houston wrestled with while she was in the spotlight.

Main features:

Naomie Aeki’s moving performance. Powerful Supporting Cast Performances A stunning recreation of one of Whitney’s best performances with remastered tracks.


For those who have loved Whitney Houston, this biopic will be quite the spectacle as they get to hear her greatest hits through the movie screen with Naomi Ackie doing her full justice while lip-syncing. Houston’s illustrious musical heritage should not be forgotten, and in serving as a reminder of it, this film serves it wholeheartedly. Though from a critical perspective, if your expectations are too high from a biopic about the life of an icon, then this movie will disappoint you.

ALSO READ: Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody to premiere in December


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