Clive Davis is both the producer behind "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and the second biggest character, and you'll never guess who's depicted as the hero of the movie.

From the beginning, the sweetie-pie record executive gives Whitney Houston, the subject of the biopic, complete creative freedom — which is definitely not what we were hearing back in the '80s. He repeatedly begs her to stop using drugs. And, having embraced his bisexuality late in life, he encourages her to find love with Robyn Crawford, the woman always publicly described as her "best friend" or "creative director." The movie's portrayal of Davis (played by Stanley Tucci in a horrendous wig) is so relentlessly positive that its message boils down to "Hey, not my fault."

Going into "Wanna," the big question is: How will it deal with the lowlights of the troubled singer's too-brief life? The answer is: Mostly, it skips them. We see her fill the bathtub in which she'll die but the movie tactfully stops there. There's no "Being Bobby Brown." No mention of her daughter's death. Only a brief hint of live performances that left audiences disappointed. We see her buying drugs and suffering from their effects but not taking them.

Mostly, "Wanna" proceeds from triumph to triumph and that works quite well because Naomi Ackie, who plays the singer/actor, is a magnetic performer. She doesn't look or sound much like Houston, whose actual singing is used for the many performances, but she has the personality and energy to embody her. There were a few uncanny-valley moments early on, when I was hearing that inimitable voice coming from someone else's face but, by the end, I bought that I was watching Houston. It's every bit the achievement that Angela Bassett's ("What's Love Got to Do With It") and Renee Zellweger's ("Judy") were.

Ackie feels like she's living Houston, rather than mimicking her. Director Kasi Lemmons' role is more imitative but she does a terrific job of it. At the screening I attended, fans clearly loved the movie's re-creation of Houston videos such as "How Will I Know" and "It's Not Right But It's Okay" and of iconic live performances such as her Super Bowl national anthem and a monster medley at the 1994 American Music Awards (the movie makes it seem like she spent half of her life at awards shows).

Of course, you could re-create those moments for yourself but there's something special about the loving way "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" realizes them for the big screen. If you will always love Whitney — and who doesn't? — your best bet may be to check out the movie, then do some quick searches on YouTube to revisit the once-in-a-lifetime talent that was Whitney Houston.

'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'

**1/2 out of four stars

Rated: PG-13 for language, drugs and brief violence.

Where: In theaters.