I Wanna Dance With Somebody Review

Addison Shepard, Staff Writer

At the end of 2022, the new Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody arrived. Unfortunately, the movie lacks all the boldness that made Whitney such a star.

The new movie has one main flaw keeping it down: it is incredibly average. It recycles all the tropes from past biopics without bringing anything new to the table. For every trope that Elvis, 2022’s other music biopic blockbuster, used, it threw in something unique that kept the audience’s attention. I Wanna Dance With Somebody has nothing of the sort. 

Because it doesn’t experiment with anything, the movie’s length is apparent. After Whitney reaches success, the movie feels like it has no direction. All throughout Elvis, there was the looming threat of Colonel Tom Parker’s abuse. In I Wanna Dance With Somebody, the main conflict in the first part of the movie is Whitney’s path to stardom. But after she reaches this goal, the movie meanders for a while before introducing her struggle with drugs as the main conflict. The other plotlines seem to resolve themselves as soon as they appear. These scattered story bits make it feel more like short segments about Whitney’s life than a film.

Another major downfall is the pacification of Whitney Houston. The movie took a woman notorious for being self-assured and bottled all of her strong will into a single scene of her snapping at an interviewer. 

However, besides Whitney’s personality getting thrown to the trash, the one thing I Wanna Dance with Somebody has over Elvis is it doesn’t shy away from the aspects of Whitney’s life the public didn’t want to see. We see Whitney discuss her family’s connections to the music industry before she starts her career, and her drug and alcohol problems are a main focus during the movie’s conclusion. The latter was also handled with care. Whitney isn’t some popstar gone wild, but a struggling woman who wants to get better.

The focus on the relationship between Whitney and her assistant, Robyn Crawford came as a welcome surprise. For many celebrities like Whitney who have left us, it is easy for the public to hide the fact that they were LGBT. But the writers of I Wanna Dance with Somebody felt it important to include in a movie where many cuts have to be made to cover Whitney’s whole career. 

The Whitney Houston biopic came with the unfortunate blandness of the modern music biopic, with its saving grace being the way it refuses to sugar-coat her career. Whitney deserved something that was full of spunk, just like herself, but unfortunately, I Wanna Dance with Somebody does not live up to her legacy.