Whitney full movie review - Substandard movie
This movie should have been titled "Whitney and Bobby" because it is primarily about their tempestuous relationship and NOT the story of Whitney's life.
The good points: Most people wondered what beautiful, elegant, classy Whitney Houston saw in "bad boy" Bobby Brown. This movie convincingly answers that question. Bobby was young, sexy, energetic, and enormously talented. He had a strong, commanding personality and he and Whitney had a passionate, erotically-charged relationship. He was her first love.
Arlen Escarpeta doesn't look like Bobby Brown, but he effectively captures his persona. Love the dance number he does at the beginning of the movie, although Bobby sang "My Prerogative" at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards, not "Every Little Step I Take."
Deborah Cox does a very credible job of recreating Whitney's vocals. I think Jason Derulo does Bobby's vocals.
The actor portraying Clive Davis looks almost exactly like him.
The bad points: Yaya DaCosta is pretty, but she looks nothing like Whitney Houston. Whitney was stunningly beautiful with a radiance that lit up stage and screen. Yaya has none of that charisma. Whitney not only had a beautiful singing voice, but her speaking voice was melodious as well. Yaya sounds like a screeching Valley Girl. Her acting skills are mediocre, and I never at any time during the movie thought I was looking at Whitney.
The movie sanitized Bobby's behavior to the point that at times he seemed like Saint Bobby. Whitney snorts coke from the very beginning of their relationship, but Bobby supposedly turns it down because he's seen its "bad outcomes." He also turns down sex from a groupie because of his supposed fidelity to Whitney. He breaks up with Whitney because he wants a serious relationship, but she just wants to keep things casual. He is extremely supportive of her career without any trace of jealousy during her meteoric rise to fame. I don't think Bobby was the villain the media made him out to be, but I doubt he was as positive an influence as this movie contends.
Clive Davis managed Whitney's career for many years and turned her into a superstar. In his brief appearances in the movie he seems callous and a bit insensitive, which is an unfair depiction.
Arlen Escarpeta is too old for the part. Bobby was only 20 years old when he and Whitney met; Escarpeta is 33. Whitney was 25, so Yaya at age 32 is a bit too old for her part, too.
Bobby was cute back in the day, but Arlen is better-looking. Bobby was a gap-toothed kid barely out of his teens when he and Whitney hooked up. If he had been as handsome, muscular, and mature-looking as Arlen, he and Whitney wouldn't have seemed like such a mismatch.
The musical numbers were too long. We don't need to see Yaya lip syncing full-length songs that were themselves being sung by Deborah Cox, not Whitney.
This isn't a bad movie, but it's not a good one either. Whitney's legacy was far-reaching, and she deserves a high-quality biopic about her amazing career and complex relationships. "Whitney" falls far short of the mark.