A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Whitney, a TV movie about R&B singer Whitney Houston's early relationship with Bobby Brown, contains mature themes including alcohol and drug addiction (marijuana, cocaine use visible) and some sexual situations (including brief partial nudity). A bloody shooting is shown; the language is pretty mild ("hell"). Fans of the late singer may be interested, but it's not geared toward young audiences.
What's the story?
WHITNEY is a TV biopic about the late R&B superstar Whitney Houston (Yaya DaCosta) and her turbulent relationship with R&B singer Bobby Brown (Arlen Escarpeta) from 1989 through the mid-1990s. From drug addiction to parenthood, it highlights some of the highs and lows of their complicated association during this time. It also offers some insight into Houston's relationship with her mother Cissy (played by Suzzanne Crawford) and her best friend Robyn Crawford (Yolonda Ross), who played an integral part of Houston's life. Throughout the movie, reenactments of some of Houston's notable musical performances (sung by Deborah Cox) are featured.
Is it any good?
The is a disappointing movie that feels superficial and unfinished. Directed by award-winning actress Angela Bassett, the series offers a soap opera-like interpretation of the events that led up to -- and seemingly defines -- the relationship between Houston and Brown, whose lives became frequent tabloid fodder until Houston's death in 2012. It also pays particular attention to Houston's drug use and the significant role it played in her life. Brown's alcoholism also is highlighted but to a lesser extent.
The passion that existed between the two singers is evident, but the omission of some of the darker details of their relationship, including domestic violence incidents, is glaringly obvious. Meanwhile, it's unclear what Bassett is trying to achieve by focusing the narrative solely on the earlier years of their partnership, which officially ended in 2006.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about TV and movie biopics. How true does a story have to be to a person's real life to be considered biographical? Is it appropriate to take creative license with someone's life story? What if it makes for better entertainment?
Have you ever learned something you didn't know about your favorite celebrity or media role model that was surprisingly negative? Did that change the way you felt about that person?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.