Mini Music Movie Review: Whitney (2015)

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I didn’t have high expectations for this movie. First of all it’s made by the Lifetime Network, which is responsible for the atrocious Aaliyah and Liz Taylor biopics. Second, it’s a made-for-tv movie, but I was hoping it would be entertaining either because it was genuinely good or it was so bad it was funny. Rather than that, the film is boring. It focuses on Whitney Houston’s relationship with Bobby Brown, which you wouldn’t expect from the title. And since the film doesn’t offer any insight or information that we couldn’t find out by pulling up Wikipedia, it feels pointless. But that’s only the start of the problem.

As many have pointed out, the movie starts off with an inaccuracy. We see Whitney getting ready for her performance at the 1989 Soul Train Awards. The only problem is she never performed at the ceremony. She was only nominated for Best R&B Contemporary Single, Female, which was met with some jeers from the crowd. But this isn’t even mentioned. At least they got one thing right: that’s where she met Bobby Brown. From there the movie gets less and less interesting. We never get to hear much about Houston’s career. In one scene we’re with her in the recording studio and in the next she’s getting ready for The Bodyguard. There’s nothing about how she fought against criticism to become one of the most successful female artists in the world. All of that is replaced with uncomfortable sex scenes of the couple. I don’t think anyone asked to see what they were like in the bedroom.

Another thing that bothered me was how none of the actors looked like anyone. It seems Yaya DaCosta was only picked because she was skinny like Houston. It’s not a big deal, but when the acting is sub par you at least want the players to look a little like the people they’re portraying. If anything more thought was given to how many wigs should be worn throughout the movie. I know Houston was fond of them, but come on. Does her hair really have to change in every scene? Then there’s the singing. DaCosta has a decent voice, but she can’t hold a candle to Houston, which is fine. What I don’t understand is why we have to sit through full renditions of songs like “I’m Your Baby Tonight” and “I Will Always Love You.” I understand the film wants to show Houston in her element, but showing half of the song would’ve been fine.

We all know the trouble Bobby Brown has gotten into over the years, so why does the movie make him a victim? Half way through we move away from Whitney to Bobby who plays up the victim card. There were problems in their relationship for sure, but they were way bigger than the way the movie makes them look. I honestly expected better of Angela Basset. Not only has she played Tina Turner in an excellent biopic, but she’s a well regarded actress. How did she let things get so bad? But I guess you can’t ask for much from a film that was made in 20 days. If you’re a fan of Houston at all and are not interested in her tumultuous relationship with Bobby, skip this movie. Hopefully, a studio will give us a movie we can tolerate.

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