Lifetime network finally redeemed themselves in the Biopic business with their TV Movie, Whitney. This biopic of Whitney Houston was quite respectable overall and definitely enjoyable, unlike the failed Aaliyah TV movie Student Project presented by Wendy Williams a few months ago. This “historical” look back of Whitney Houston got so many important elements right in this movie – the superb casting, the pitch correct acting, the dead ringer costumes of that era, Whitney’s iconic wigs, the LUSH singing by Deborah Cox as Whitney Houston, the drug use accepted casually as it was matter of fact in the entertainment business, and the cultural signifiers like the Movie Sparkle being a major influence for young singers in the 70s. But the narrative pretty much only concentrated on the love affair of Whitney and Bobby and pushed underneath the bed any back story on Whitney’s motivations to sing, her private demons, her professional dealings, or just ANYTHING about the force that was Whitney WITHOUT Bobby. Further, the arc of this narrative implying that Bobby Brown, the Bad Boy of R&B who had multiple children outside of wedlock was initially the stabilizing influence to Whitney’s out of control rapacious passions and desires is one that I’m just not buying. As Whitney would say, “Show me the receipts!”
RECAP of WHITNEY TV Movie Biopic aka The Whitney & Bobby Brown Love Affair
Why 1st time Director & Academy Award winning Actress Angela Basset decided to narrowly focus the entire biopic on Whitney’s Pop Culture infamy- her volatile and highly unlikely romantic partnership with Bobby Brown, I don’t know. Considering Whitney Houston’s huge legacy as a Singer for her generation, I just don’t understand the short shrift she is given. But maybe legal difficulties with the estate in securing music if she delved too deeply into Whitney’s complete life or perhaps the mammoth task of trying to condense Whitney Houston’s legacy into a 2 hour package complete with commercials coagulated to cause this myopic sugarcoated look at a great love affair NONE of us knew was there except to fuel and enable each singer’s demons and excesses.
Flashpoints in the movie:
** Yaya De Costa is a Freaking Star and a Dead Ringer for Whitney Houston! To see her done up as Whitney on her wedding day was GLORIOUS! Great acting to bootstrap the casting.
**The casting of Deborah Cox’s Vocals as Whitney Houston was BEYOND Perfect. The Singing was OVA and Pure FIYAH!
**Co-star Bobby Brown character sure looks a lot cuter than I remember from those days but the actor does a great job of reading his lines and portraying motivations according to the script he was given. Bonus- he has great chemistry with Yaya so kudos to him.
**Why didn’t Clive Davis get credit for playing himself? That WAS him, wasn’t it?
**Whitney’s possibly complicated friendship with long time friend Robin was displayed with just the right amount of understated nuance and love without it being overbearing since there is no hardcore evidence of anything of a non platonic nature that was going on between them no matter the rampant rumors suggesting otherwise.
**Story was effective in highlighting the fantasy that Thug Love or Project Love is irresistible and it got Whitney hooked on Bobby Brown with lots of steamy, passionate, hot sex- constantly. This part of the narrative I accept as TRUTH in Whitney’s life without question or debate. Thug Love can get a girl wide open and wet, no joke.
**Glaringly suspicious event: Whitney Houston was using drugs FIRST and Bobby Brown started using later presumably from her example??! I know this is not the Bobby Brown movie but come on, let’s show some equitable drug use here. Why blame it all just on her? Not buying it.
**Whitney’s Tour Mashup was RIGHTEOUS! Actress Yaya Decosta WAS Whitney on that stage Lip syncing for her life and the costumes and body movement was ON POINT. Deborah Cox’s vocals WERE Whitney’s HANDS DOWN.
The ending of the movie with Whitney Houston’s rendition of I will Always Love You was perfect if you wanted to see a movie about the love affair that was Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s. I, for one, DID NOT want to see such a movie. The Whitney Houston movie should not have ended there. Show the decline. Show the real. Show the good, bad, AND the ugly with Whitney. We love her and that is what her public would have wanted because Whitney WAS REAL. Alas, this was the Whitney & Bobby Movie. Wasn’t really about HER but about THEM. All the same, the movie was still engaging, well done, entertaining, and a quality tribute to Whitney Houston. I’m not mad at this movie at all.
After the Movie, they did a one hour interview with Bobby Brown called Remembering Whitney. This interview was supposed to get some clarity and balance from Bobby Brown about the REAL Whitney Houston and his role in her life. I’m not sure about the falsehoods that seemed to drip from Bobby’s mouth in an attempt to rehabilitate his OWN reputation BUT I will give him much credit for accepting the blame equally with Whitney and not trying to throw her under the bus even if it appeared like the movie did just that- THROW HER UNDER THE BUS.
Following the Bobby Brown Interview was a Musical Tour of Whitney’s greatest Performances hosted by Clive Davis. Watching The REAL Whitney Houston perform her own songs sent shivers down my spine. Reminded me of why she is one of the great voices and how much her voice will be missed!