I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Review.

As some sort of preamble to this review of the recently released Whitney Houston biopic one could go on a long extended rant about how Bohemian Rhapsody effectively single-handedly revived this variety of hackey, estate-approved tortured musician biopics. Said film is exactly the sort of media Twitter punching bay where the majority of the reasons it has gained this reputation won’t matter to the general public. That’s not to say Bohemian Rhapsody is great. it’s an extremely surface-level, watered-down film of its genre that’s elevated by a genuinely transcendent performance from Rami Malek. Nevertheless, given that film commercial and award success wouldn’t the same writer want to try and continue on his path in resurrecting this variety of deservedly previously dead Oscar bait? Hence we have I Wanna Dance With Somebody. a film with the essential same strengths and weaknesses as Bohemian Rhapsody rooted in Anthony Macartans very superficial whistle-stop tour of a short and tragic but supremely talented global figure. In this case Whitney Houston. There’s honestly not a great deal to say about the film beyond that. Aa This viewer has been rooting for Naomi Ackie to be a major breakout star of the future since she acted circles around Lena Waithe in a vanity project intended for the latter. Her central performance as Houston is good but doesn’t have the immediate sense of Tour de Force magnetism the allowed rain Bram Alex Freddie Mercury immediately engaged the general public. Stanley Tucci in a bad wig is here in an attempt to add some gravitas to the proceedings. All the requisite beats of Houston’s life are hit with all the subtlety of those involved in taking the necessary material of a checklist. . The whole thing reeks of exactly what one would expect it to be given the obvious set of circumstances and influences that led to its creation. One could also swap the film out with sequences from Jennifer Hudson’s Aretha Franklin biopic Respect and viewers would not know the difference. The one mildly interesting thing I Wanna Dance With Somebody has to offer is that it canonises Houston’s bisexuality in a very estate-approved form. This is undeniably a good move on paper. If a celebrity was LGBTQ and those involved in putting together material about them want the question of sexuality discussed when this is a lesser known aspect of the subject’s personal life in a way this allows for the narrative not to get totally out of control. Unfortunately, the film’s very stilted delivery presents the juxtaposition between Houston’s religious upbringing and her LGBTQ relationship with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face. It’s disappointing as there was potential for more nuance here. That said nuance is not something the makers of a film like this would ever be interested in, 

I Wanna Dance with Somebody is an audience-friendly but aggressively functional music biopic It owes its existence on some level to the films before it that have resurrected a trend in awards movies that were previously dead. It does offer a solid central performance from a clear rising star within Hollywood. Everyone else involved creatively with this project appears to want nothing more than the ability to fight their way out of some tried and tested but formulaic construction. Even the one element that could make this final product more interesting in openly cosigning the subject’s bisexuality is handled with all the subtlety of landing flat on ones face. Houston fans and those that do not have a problem with this variety of formulas for music biopics might get something out of the new effort. that said when the film ended with the declaration that Whitney was “the voice of her generation” and the Kygo track Higher Love that is the most recent Houston media in the public consciousness plays over the credits it’s hard not to have a certain sense of “well that’s just your opinion man” 



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