- Hamish Hart
I Wanna Dance with Somebody (2022) Review
THE late great Whitney Houston was a true pioneer in the music industry, changing the game for African-American artists by becoming one of the first to branch into pop music; a style which would become signature for the singer. After years of production issues, her biopic has been brought to life in a film that does indeed showcase her talents, but loses track of the "biopic" side of things.
Named after arguably her most successful single, I Wanna Dance with Somebody follows the life of Whitney Houston (Naomi Ackie) through her humble beginnings, critically-acclaimed songs, and her tumultuous and heartfelt relationships with husband Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders) and manager Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci), respectively.
There is no denying that the film contains exceptional musical performances given the artist it's covering, and whilst there are critics saying Ackie should have sung some songs, there is no chance she would've been able to come close to replicating the one-in-a-million voice Whitney possessed. And this is in no way disrespecting Ackie's capabilities as for my money she was the best part of the biopic. Her performance infused life into this movie, allowing the musical moments to shine even brighter, particularly her iconic rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner at Super Bowl XXV and her comeback on The Oprah Show in 2009. Ackie also stands out in the film's more somber moments where she bounces off of Stanley Tucci. Their chemistry is insurmountable and is one of the highlights of the movie, pontificating specific moments in time to create genuinely touching scenes that emulate what the movie should've been about: heart and soul.
Sadly though, there is very little positive to say about I Wanna Dance with Somebody from this point. On the surface everything should work, and as a solitary movie it is just fine, but as a biopic, it is painfully average and disconnected. Segments are rushed and jumped between so frequently that it feels more like a checklist of events rather than a cohesive story, and despite most of the events being prominently featured in a tight 150 minute runtime, there is little to no substance behind each segment. This may not be a big problem for the average movie-goer, but for anyone looking to become emotionally attached to what is, in actuality a fascinating tale of loss and redemption, don't put your hopes too high as it's clear from the title alone that recreating iconic performances was the end goal behind I Wanna Dance with Somebody. But let's just be lucky the musical moments are enough to make for an average watching experience at best.