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New I Wanna Dance With Somebody trailer gives Whitney Houston's vocals the stadium-sized setting they deserve

The trailer for the upcoming biopic from Bohemian Rhapsody's writers also offers a glimpse at Stanley Tucci as producer Clive Davis

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Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston in I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston in I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Image: Emily Aragones/Sony Pictures Entertainment

Trying to nail a Whitney Houston biopic seems somewhat akin to trying to photograph a distant, exploding star: arduous and humbling, to say the least. Creating a visual record of a one-of-a-kind talent whose music transcended her life’s hardships is the definition of a formidable task. But the latest trailer for I Wanna Dance With Somebody seems to offer a stadium-sized setting worth of Houston’s vocals—which are used for every song in the film.

I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY - Official Trailer #2 (HD)

I Wanna Dance With Somebody finds its lead in Naomi Ackie, who, without the downright nerve-wracking task of covering Houston’s songs, nails the singer’s silky, metered speaking voice. The trailer highlights moments throughout Houston’s career and life, both good and bad. There’s the triumph of her “Star Spangled Banner” performance at 1991's Super Bowl XXV, and the personal joy of her wedding.

Of course, we know now that Houston’s time in the spotlight was nothing if not degenerative, but the trailer doesn’t delve too deeply into her struggles with addiction or her relationship with her abusive ex-husband Bobby Brown. It does, however, hint at some of the valleys of Houston’s career, like financial disputes with her father and incessant criticism she received for not being “Black enough.”

The trailer also offers a brief glimpse of Stanley Tucci as Clive Davis, Houston’s longtime producer and one of her closest friends. The real Davis had a decisive hand in making I Wanna Dance With Somebody happen—and assuring that Houston got her due. He told The Hollywood Reporter in December 2020 that Ackie’s screen test for Houston “was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine.”

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“Although Whitney’s incomparable vocals are used for all the songs, Naomi’s extraordinary acting range enables her to masterfully capture Whitney’s unique charm, star power, and, of course, her personal struggles,” he continued. “Naomi is the real deal and I can’t imagine a better choice for this iconic role.”

I Wanna Dance With Somebody premieres in theaters on December 23, 2022.