Screening at AMC Pacific Place and more cinemas around Seattle
Regardless of quality, musical biopics are guaranteed to garner awards attention. But more importantly, they guarantee at least three sequences where audiences lose their minds watching their favorite hit songs either come to fruition (the “Hey, sing that phrase again while I fiddle around on this here instrument” scene) or be performed as emotionally as possible to a giant crowd (“Welcome to Live Aid” or “Elvis is about to mindfreak all these teenagers with his swinging hips!”). And when you’ve got a voice and back catalog as legendary as Whitney Houston’s, that’s the stuff that movie dreams are made of.
That’s what could separate I Wanna Dance with Somebody from some other movies of its ilk, because a musical biopic’s main objective should be to match the energy of the songs. If it can manage to break through the genre clichés long enough to make me feel the way any of her top singles do—and hoo boy do I have some emotions set aside for even the karaoke versions of, say, “I Have Nothing,” “How Will I Know,” and even “My Love is Your Love”—then that’s a rousing success. Directed by Kasi Lemmons, an actor (School Daze, Candyman) turned acclaimed director (Eve’s Bayou, Harriet), and starring British actress Naomi Ackie (The End of the F***ing World) as Houston, I think you’re gonna have some nice end-of-2022 cries watching this after you’re done opening your Christmas/Hanukkah presents.