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Kasi Lemmons
Naomi Ackie, Stanley Tucci, Ashton Sanders
Writing Credits:
Anthony McCarten

The story of Whitney Houston's rise to fame, career, and tragic death.

Box Office:
$45 million.
Opening Weekend
$4,700,450 on 3625 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1
Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
French Audio Descriptive Service
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional

144 min.
Price: $38.99
Release Date: 2/28/2023

• “Whitney’s Jukebox” Song Search
• “Becoming Whitney” Featurette
• “Moments of an Icon” Featurette
• “The Personal Touch” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


I Wanna Dance With Somebody [Blu-Ray] (2022)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 2, 2023)

While I won’t dare to guess what acts as the first-ever “biopic” for a musician, I can say the format goes back many decades. The genre got a major shot in the arm due to the massive success of 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

That one sent Hollywood accountants hearts aflutter and opened the door for more movies about fairly contemporary musicians. For a recent entry, we go to 2022’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody, a look at the life of the late Whitney Houston.

In 1983, we meet Whitney (Naomi Ackie), the child of musical royalty such as her mother Cissy (Tamara Tunie), cousin Dionne Warwick, and family friends Darlene Love and Aretha Franklin. As a 19-year-old, she develops a romantic relationship with Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams) and also dabbles in drug use as a response to the toxic relationship between Cissy and her father John (Clarke Peters).

Whitney sings backup for Cissy but attracts high-powered attention when Arista record label chief Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci) hears her do lead vocals. This gets Whitney a recording contract and sends her toward superstardom, success that comes with plenty of pitfalls.

Dance may boast more producers than any other film in history. In addition to the 12 – 12! – billed producers, it boasts 24 executive or co-producers.

I mention this mainly to indicate a lot of ladles in this soup, a factor that feels likely to “dumb down” the final result. Also, since some of those producers include Whitney’s sister-in-law Pat as well as Clive Davis, I feared Dance would offer a totally sanitized experience. Heck, both Pat and Clive act as characters in the movie, a factor that one might assume would make the film safe as milk.

To my surprise, Dance manages more willingness to look at controversy than expected – well, to a degree. The opening 11 minutes or so reveal Whitney’s romance with Robyn as well as her early drug experiences.

This sets up a “warts and all” film that doesn’t quite come, though. At 11:30, Davis arrives at the club to hear Whitney, and her career becomes the real focal point.

Not that Dance turns squeaky clean, as it does continue to show light on the Whitney/Robyn relationship. We see the pressures Whitney experienced to date males and disassociate from the boyish Crawford. We also learn about her later drug abuse concerns.

While Dance doesn’t avoid Houston’s issues and controversies, it doesn’t dig into them either – or anything else, honestly. Through its 144 minutes, the movie covers roughly 30 years and it does so at a breakneck pace.

Such is the problem with biopics that attempt to examine a large span of years. With so much material to discuss, they inevitably become superficial and hurried.

Even so, Dance feels like it rushes way too quickly and barely gets into much of anything. We’re barely 11 minutes into the movie when Whitney gets her “big break”, so don’t expect much pre-fame backstory beyond the basics of a mom who rules Whitney’s world and a philandering, manipulative dad.

Once Davis signs Houston, one expects the usual “ascension to fame” sequence in which we see Whitney sell bajillions of records and turn into a household name – except we don’t. Oddly, Dance largely skips this aspect of her career even though it seems like a major story point.

Dance uses Whitney’s 1985-86 initial success mostly as an excuse to recreate the music video for “How Will I Know”. Before you can say “crossover hit”, the film leaps over this era to get us to Whitney’s second album in 1987 and the movie’s title song.

Which also shows up mainly as a reason to give us more musical material. This turns into an issue with Dance, as it often feels like a mix of song performances around which they cobbled a loose narrative.

Oh, we get the basics, though Dance seems to prefer to wallow in Houston’s misery. As implied earlier, I should find this refreshing since this means we largely avoid the sanitized version of the biography I expected.

However, Dance tends to devote too much energy to the “bad times” and not enough on Whitney’s successes. We witness some of her iconic performances – like her triumphant rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” at the 1991 Super Bowl – but outside of references to her massive fame and popularity, the movie rarely conveys the kind of positive energy one would expect.

Again, the ridiculously rapid pace at which Dance proceeds becomes the primary issue here, as events fly by at lightning speed. One minute Whitney meets Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders) and the next they’re a full-fledged couple, without any kind of “getting to know you” period.

Don’t expect Brown to get treated as anything more than a stock villain here, by the way. Popular culture tends to blame him for Whitney’s drug use and decline, but while their problematic relationship didn’t help, Whitney’s own demons led to these issues more substantially than did Brown’s presence.

Really, Houston’s time with Brown probably acted more as a symptom of her issues than a cause, but you don’t get much sense of that in Dance. Yes, the movie throws Brown a bone toward the end when Houston acknowledges that her drug use pre-dated her time with him, but given that this follows all sorts of footage that depicts Brown as a cad, it seems like too little too late.

Don’t view this as a real defense of Brown, though, as he certainly contributed to Houston’s concerns. Nonetheless, I don’t like the simplistic manner in which it depicts him – and everything else.

Though what should I expect from a movie that tears through Houston’s life at breakneck speed? Dance offers a rough outline of its subject’s life but delivers far too little depth to act as anything more than a frustrating overview.

Footnote: footage and images of Whitney show up during the end credits.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

I Wanna Dance With Somebody appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with solid visuals.

Sharpness worked fine. The occasional interior felt a smidgen soft, but these instances remained modest and not a distraction.

I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes failed to appear. As expected, print remained absent.

Dance opted for 21st Century Amber and Teal. Trite as this seemed, within stylistic preferences, the colors felt well-reproduced.

Blacks seemed dark and deep, while low-light shots offered appealing delineation. This turned into a more than satisfactory image.

In addition, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked fine for the material at hand. Music dominated and used the various speakers well. These elements came to the fore during concert or music video segments, and those offered the movie’s most involving sonic segments.

Effects got less to do and usually offered general ambience. That left us without much in terms of auditory fireworks, but given the story’s focus on music and characters, this made sense.

We did get a few showy moments, though. For instance, the jets that flew over the Super Bowl offered nice movement and impact.

Overall audio quality seemed good, and speech was natural and concise. Music sounded peppy and full, while effects seemed acceptable.

As mentioned earlier, those elements lacked much to stand out from the crowd, but they appeared accurate enough. This all added up to a “B“ soundtrack.

A smattering of extras appear here, and Whitney’s Jukebox provides a search feature that allows viewers to any of the movie’s 11 musical sequences. Users can also check out the songs via “shuffle” or “play all”.

The latter adds up to 33 minutes, 10 seconds of material. This becomes a decent bonus.

Three featurettes follow, and Becoming Whitney runs seven minutes, 37 seconds. It offers notes from director Kasi Lemmons, producers Patricia Houston and Clive Davis, movement coach/choreographer Polly Bennett, makeup department head Tisa Howard, hair department head Brian Badie, and actors Naomi Ackie, Stanley Tucci, Clarke Peters, Nafessa Williams and Daniel Washington.

As expected, the piece covers the work to make Ackie into Whitney. We get a mix of insights and fluff – with more of the latter.

Moments of an Icon spans eight minutes, two seconds and features Lemmons. Ackie, Patricia Houston, art director David Offner, production designer Gerald Sullivan, supervising sound editor John Warhurst, musical director Rickey Minor, editor Daysha Broadway, costume designer Charlese Antoinette Jones, and music supervisor Maureen Crowe.

This one tells us of efforts to recreate various performances from Whitney’s career. It provides another combination of useful notes and praise.

Finally, The Personal Touch goes for five minutes, 30 seconds and involves Lemmons, Ackie,. Davis, Minor, Houston, Crowe, key makeup artist Ja Nina Lee and brother Gary Houston.

“Touch” covers some basics about the life of Whitney Houston and those who knew her. Anticipate an emphasis on happy talk.

Six Deleted Scenes occupy a total of seven minutes, 44 seconds. A few interesting clips emerge, such as a glimpse of Cissy’s infidelity as well as Bobby Brown’s attempt to bond with Whitney’s dad.

An extended scene shows Clive Davis at work, but it doesn’t work because it takes us away from Whitney for too long. We also get a little of the Whitney/Robyn relationship late in Whitney’s life, but these clips feel fairly superfluous.

The disc opens with ads for Where the Crawdads Sing, A Journal for Jordan and The Woman King. No trailer for Dance appears here.

To its credit, I Wanna Dance With Somebody includes many of the darkest moments in the life of Whitney Houston. However, the movie rushes through her life with such alacrity that it provides next to zero insights about its subject. The Blu-ray comes with good picture and audio as well as minor bonus materials. This film seems too fast-paced and superficial to serve its subject well.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 3
0 3:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main