FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2004 file photo, recording artist Whitney Houston performs at the 2004 World Music Awards at the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas. Houston is about to appear on the concert stage again. Eight years after her death, five years after the show was conceived and a year after production began, a holographic Houston will embark on a European tour starting Feb. 25, with U.S. dates expected to follow. The singer's sister-in-law and former manager Pat Houston says it's the right time for a revival, and says it's a show Whitney Houston would've wanted. The concerts will feature a projected Houston performing most of her biggest hits, including “I Will Always Love You," with real backup dancers and a live band. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison, file)
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Normally, when I’m giving a review about a new movie, I’d warn that there are spoilers ahead. But not this time. Anyone that grew up in the 80s, 90s, or early 2000s is pretty much aware of iconic pop and R&B star Whitney Houston’s story. And honestly, this latest film doesn’t offer many new details, but it stands out in how it told the Waiting to Exhale star’s story.

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is the latest biopic about the late, great Whitney “Nippy” Houston. It’s titled perfectly because, to me, it’s symbolic of Whitney’s battle with her identity and being loved and accepted for who she really was, versus who others wanted her to be. She wrestled with the weight of being a megastar when all she wanted for her life was that feeling of nostalgia and being free while you’re dancing. Tragically, as we know, she never got to dance that dance.

This movie is more celebratory of Whitney as the extraordinarily gifted talent that she displayed. 

It takes us through a timeline of some of her most notable hits, like I Wanna Dance With Somebody, I Will Always Love You, I Have Nothing and It’s Not Right But It’s Okay. It takes us through her evolution as an artist–from her transition from pop to R&B and her breakout roles in the film industry. And although we’ve always known that she was blessed vocally, I can say that this movie made me realize that she is the greatest voice of all time.

“I wanna dance with somebody” is a must-see film

But even as someone who’s seen all of the other documentaries and biopics on Houston’s life, I learned a few things about her that I wasn’t aware of.

For instance, many of the other stories focus on her relationship with her mother, Cissy Houston. This film gives us a deeper look into Whitney’s rollercoaster relationship with her father, John Houston.

We learn that Whitney and Bobby Brown had their first miscarriage while she was filming the movie The Bodyguard. She suffered a second one in 1994, after having Bobbi Kristina a year earlier.

And while it wasn’t the main focal point, her struggles throughout her relationship with the “Bad Boy of R&B” and her drug abuse weren’t sugarcoated.

But the movie is also special in the sense that, where before LGBTQ+ relationships were hidden in the entertainment industry, later portrayals about her life have been more open about her romantic relationship with Robyn Crawford

The movie opens with and gives us a full view of their love before speculation about their involvement and the impact it could have on Whitney’s career causes them to land in a permanent friend zone. But despite being torn lovers, you still see the devotion they have to one another as best friends.

And finally, it gave us a closer look into her relationship with music executive and producer, Clive Davis who, in this film, was the ally that gave her voice and championed her happiness. He wanted to see her dance.

All in all, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is an emotional film because no matter how nostalgic we feel in getting to see Naomi Ackie reenact some of Whitney’s greatest performances and body the role overall, we still know the ending to the story.

But, it’s worth seeing because of that nostalgia.

You’ll sing, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll dance in your theater seat. And most of all, you’ll remember Whitney Houston as the greatest voice of all time.

Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work--"If not me then who?" As a strategist and injustice interrupter, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for radical...

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