Whitney Houston's first authorized biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, is finally here. 10 years in the making, the film promises to take a deep look into the icon's carefully crafted career and image, and the ups and downs of her personal life, including her marriage to Bobby Brown and her brief romance with her longtime friend, Robyn Crawford. The reviews are finally in for the Kasi Lemmons from an Anthony McCarten screenplay, Houston's manager/sister-in-law Oat Houston, and longtime mentor Clive Davis, spearheaded the film.
Released nationwide on Dec. 23, 2023, the film is just over two hours long, with fans wondering if it's enough time to capture Houston's prolific life and successful career in such a short time. Reviews are split, but one thing for certain is that Naomi Ackie, who stars as the singer in the film, is getting all of the accolades.
Deadline says the film falls flat
Houston comes from the error where an artist kept their personal life private, and mere speculation and rumors is what caused the tabloid fodder. Even through interviews, with the exception of her 2009 interview with Oprah, Houston kept things mum. Deadline wishes the film went deeper, noting it glosses over the real issues.prevnext
Rolling Stone calls the biopic a great love letter
The review notes that the film is rushed, with it being a little under 2 hours and 30 minutes. Despite such, the musical elements are what's appreciated the most, as they showcase why Houston was deemed "The Voice."prevnext
The Wrap says there are great surprises in the biopic
Another raving review of Ackie, but notes that Ashton Sanders, the Oscar winner from Moonlight who stars as Houston's ex-husband Bobby Brown, is a disappointment. Per the review, his performance is the least fulfilling.prevnext
The Chicago Tribune gives it praise
Ackie may not resemble Houston, but the review notes that she shines anyway. She sings beautifully, and per the reviewer, she embodies Houston's star quality.prevnext
The New York Post calls the biopic a 'travesty'
Per their review, the film is a lazy attempt, at best, that is cheap and would have been better served on a cable network…ouch. They blame the estate, in the first authorized biopic, who seemingly preferred to be vague about Houston's issues to preserve her image and legacy without giving a deep dive.prevnext
The movie showcases Houston's family betrayal
In an interview with Vanity Fair, the film's screenwriter details a scene in which Houston learns she's near broke and has to tour to earn money, despite her earning millions by that time and being exhausted from constant work. The reason, he says, is due to Houston funding her family's life, with several of them on her payroll throughout her career on rotation. BuzzFeed echos similar sentiments, writing, "The biopic captures the true emotional weight of Houston's fatigue and of her family's betrayal."prev