The life of late legendary recording artist Whitney Houston was one of both amazing success and devastating setbacks. An unforgettable talent, she will always be known for her powerhouse vocals and iconic music video looks. Both take center stage in the upcoming movie I Wanna Dance With Somebody, as the story of Houston’s rise and fall is finally getting the biopic treatment.
Written by Bohemian Rhapsody’s Anthony McCarten and directed by Harriet’s Kasi Lemmons, the latest musical biopic to hit the scene stars Naomi Ackie, last seen in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, as the late great Whitney Houston. This first trailer, released by Sony to support their upcoming picture, shows brief glimpses of Houston’s life and looks, as we see her go from choir singer to full blown pop star.
Along the way, we’re shown peeks at landmarks in Whitney Houston’s career. I Wanna Dance With Somebody looks to be quite comprehensive. We even get see Ackie dressed in looks from the music videos to songs like the titular smash hit, as well as “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay.” The showstopping moment of the trailer is the recreation of the singer’s rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV; a performance so iconic, it was sold as a musical single and VHS.
So far, Naomi Ackie looks to be sinking into the role of Whitney Houston. I Wanna Dance With Somebody’s star owns every second of screen time, especially when inhabiting those classic Whitney moments. That alone leads to the question of how much of Houston's acting career will be shown in the story. As some of Whitney Houston’s best movies like The Bodyguard and The Preacher’s Wife could be used to further tell her life story, we may see memorable moments from those films brought to life.
Another point that stands is how far I Wanna Dance With Somebody will dive into Whitney Houston’s personal troubles, or her tragic death in 2012. Neither seem to be hinted at in this first footage, and the involvement of a key player from Bohemian Rhapsody might worry some audience members about how, or if, those points will be handled.
Though it was an Academy Award winning smash hit, the 2018 biopic has been criticized as overly sanitized Freddie Mercury’s personal story; a claim that even actor Rami Malek could understand. So much so that when one of that film’s producers attached themselves to an in-development Michael Jackson biopic, there was an explicit promise to avoid a “sanitized rendering.”
I Wanna Dance With Somebody may not be as wild as other 2022 musical biopics, such as the predictably bonkers work of Baz Luhrmann's Elvis, but it doesn't look like it'll be afraid to break some hearts. There’s still some time for the world to speculate about what exactly we'll get from this movie, as it's set to open in theaters on December 21st.
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