There was a time in the 1980’s and ’90s that if didn’t passionately declare you were a fan of Whitney Houston you were in serious danger of losing your ‘gay card. Nicknamed ‘The Voice’ she is still one of the bestselling music artists of all time, with sales of over 200 million records worldwide and an enormous gay following. She is the only artist to have had seven consecutive number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, from “Saving All My Love for You” in 1985 to “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” in 1988.
Throughout her career and posthumously she won two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, and 28 Guinness World Records, as well as induction into the Grammy, Rhythm and Blues Music, and Rock and Roll halls of fame.
Houston also gained notoriety in her life through her lesbian relationship with Robyn Crawford and then her tumultuous marriage to R+B singer Bobby Brown and the couple’s drug issues and domestic disputes which made them tabloid fodder. ‘
It was sadly all of these downsides of this creative genius’s life that became the focus of the “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” the very disappointing biopic of her life. Even with an excessive running time of 2 hours 26 mins, director Kasi Lemmons, working from a script by Academy Award nominee Anthony McCarten, just couldn’t stop it from being like a badly cliched Lifetime Movie for TV. It’s not that we wanted to see Houston portrayed inaccurately, but focusing so heavily on her negativity and with some confusing plotlines, neither did her justice nor make for good entertainment.
The own shining factor about the movie was the performance by unknown Brit actor Naomi Ackle in the starring role who was such a sheer delight. Although they mainly used Houston’s own voice, the camera (and the audience) fell head over heels in love with her. Even with the material she had to work with, we could sense we were in the presence of a future major star.
She had good support from Tamara Tunie playing Houston’s mother Cissie, and also Stanley Tucci wearing an appropriately bad toupee as the great music producer Clive Davis who was responsible for Houston’s career (and who knew he also dated men too!)
It was a wasted opportunity, Houston ….. and all her fans deserve so much better.
Review : Roger Walker-Dack
Editor in Chief : Queerguru Member of G.A.L.E.C.A. (Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association) and NLGJA The Association of LGBT Journalists. and The Online Film Critics Society. Ex Contributung Editor The Gay Uk &Contributor Edge Media Former CEO and Menswear Designer of Roger Dack Ltd in the UK one of the hardest-working journalists in the business' Michael Goff of Towleroad
Labels: 2022, biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Naomi Ackie, Stanley Tucci, Tamira Tune, Whitney Houston