WHITNEY HOUSTON:  I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY – PG-13 – 2 hrs. 25 mins

DIRECTOR:  Kasi Lemmons

WRITER:  Anthony McCarten

STARRING:  Naomi Ackie, Stanley Tucci, Ashton Sanders, Tamara Tunie, Nafessa Williams and Clarke Peters

Based on the real-life rise & fall of Whitney Houston’s life, and career, we meet a young Whitney (Naomie Ackie), working with her mother, fellow artist Cissy Houston (Tamara Tunie), wanting nothing more than to make it to the big time…

Whitney also finds that starting a friendship/relationship with Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams), at this time in her life might just be a problem for her Father John (Clarke Peters), but Whiney assures everyone that Robyn’s support is just what she needs, as her star is beginning to rise, thanks to the incomparable Manager and Entertainment powerhouse Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci), who has started to guide her career, straight into the stratosphere.

When Whitney manages to catch the eye of New Edition Bad boy, Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders), having a relationship with Robyn may just have to go to the back burner, as Whitney finds that she enjoys being in Bobby’s company, and his extracurricular influences too…

Now, with her career soaring and her and Bobby finally tying the knot, Whitney’s dreams have all but come true, once little Bobby Christina (Bailee Lopes / Bria Danielle Singleton) comes into their lives, finally bringing Whitney’s life some joy and contentment, if only for a little while…

But as the drugs and alcohol start to consume Whitney’s every waking moment, and as her estranged husband keeps stepping out on her, Whitney finds herself spiraling out of control, with no end in sight.  Sadly too it seems, neither her parents,  nor her life-long manager Clive Davis, can get her to refocus her life, and her career, before it’s too late…

(LtoR) Nafessa Williams and Naomi Ackie in TRISTAR pictures I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY
(LtoR) Stanley Tucci and Naomi Ackie in TRISTAR pictures I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY
Naomi Ackie in TRISTAR pictures I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY
Naomi Ackie in TRISTAR pictures I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY
Naomi Ackie in TRISTAR pictures I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY

I give WHITNEY HOUSTON: I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY a rating of 3 out of 5 Stars:  from the beginning of hearing Whitney Houston’s voice on screen, you are taken to a time and place that we all wish we were still living in.  And even though we all know how this story ends, Naomi Ackie must have studied Whitney Houston backwards and forwards, as the lip syncing this time around is sheer perfection, and so are the mannerisms she displays on screen.  The only thing that would have made this film more powerful, is if they could have found an actress that was closer to Whitney’s looks, to put on screen.  I just think back to the other biopics this year – Like ELVIS, where Austin Butler was so fabulous as the KING of Rock and Roll, that you were drawn into his performance hook, line and sinker.  Or if you caught BLONDE this year, as Ana De Armas personifies Marilyn Monroe, and you get caught up in the performance so much, it’s as if she IS Marilyn Monroe.  I think that if I hadn’t already experienced these other films this year, this performance might have been more of a standout, but sadly, it just wasn’t for me.  Sad too, is the fact that the other performances throughout this film, weren’t really standouts either.  Tunie and Clarke gave okay performances playing Whitney’s parents, and Sanders did okay too playing Bobby Brown, but I’m sure that in real-life Brown was way more of a..well, you know, than they portrayed in this film  But I do have to share too that even though Stanley Tucci has given a few more impressive performances over the years, he did give a believable portrayal of music mogul Clive Davis.  The only other performance that really stood out to me along the way, came from Nafessa Williams, playing Whitney’s friend, confidant and lover Robyn Crawford…long before Bobby Brown entered into her life.

As I sat and watched WHITNEY HOUSTON : I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY wrap, all I could think of was what I am sure everyone else in the theater was thinking of too…what a waste of so much talent, and how wonderful our world would be if we could still here that incredible voice, echoing through our radios, televisions, or back on the big screen…

3 out of 5 Stars

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