Celebrity biopics can go one of two ways: Either they’re a warts-and-all deep dive that leaves nothing left unsaid or they’re a nice piece of PR that doesn’t go beyond the stories and legends we already know. Based on the first trailer, it appears I Wanna Dance With Somebody will fall into the latter category.
The first footage of the Whitney Houston biopic was released on Thursday and has good scenes of Naomi Ackie looking and performing just like the famed singer, but that’s all we get. There’s the first time that record executive Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci) hears her sing, people questioning her Blackness and her legendary performance of the national anthem at the Super Bowl.
And that’s it.
I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY: Official Trailer
I understand that the studio doesn’t want to give away the whole movie in the first trailer, but the audience also needs something to make them think this film will be worth its time. So far, I Wanna Dance With Somebody is not doing that, it’s just relying on Whitney’s popularity.
On the plus side, Ackie’s transformation into The Bodyguard star looks great. The British actress has Whitney’s personality and mannerisms down. The singing voice is Whitney’s, but the Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker star makes the performance scenes look seamless.
The plot follows the challenges the Grammy-winner faced on her path to stardom. Since this film is authorized by her family, who are very protective of Whitney’s legacy and name, it’s unclear how personal the story will actually get. The cast includes Ashton Sanders as Bobby Brown and Nafessa Williams as Robyn Crawford, but who knows how much screen time they will really have?
Though Sony describes the movie as a “no-holds-barred portrait of the complex and multifaceted woman behind The Voice,” I have a feeling this movie isn’t going to be the tell-all drama some fans are hoping for. However, it probably will be a nice love letter to the iconic singer.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody, starring Ackie, Sanders, Williams, Tucci, Tamara Tunie and Clarke Peters, is scheduled for release on Dec. 21.