Last night, I was lamenting the cruelty of Netflix for not having The Bodyguard on Instant Watch—first and foremost because it’s a classic, but obviously also in light of Whitney Houston‘s shocking death this weekend. Then I learned that Lifetime is airing the movie tonight, at 8 p.m., because they’re awesome.
And you know who hasn’t seen it? Our new editor-in-chief Jenni Maier. This is my attempt to convince her to watch — or at least, DVR — it tonight. But also the rest of you who have missed out on this key piece of pop culture, because c’mon.
Whitney is fantastic in it. The Bodyguard was the singer’s first feature film role, at the age of 29. It remains her best-known movie role, despite the relative success of other projects like The Preacher’s Wife and the TV movie Cinderella with Brandy.
I think part of what makes this connection so strong with my generation is, at the time that we were actually watching The Bodyguard, Whitney’s reputation had been tainted by her substance abuse and domestic problems. In many ways, as spoiled pop star Rachel Marron, she was playing herself. This earned her a Razzie nomination, but I maintain that her inexperience as an actress made the story of a former Secret Service agent catering to the needs of a conceited celebrity that much more convincing.
There’s more than one famous song. Yes, the main takeaway from the movie is Whitney’s rendition of the Dolly Parton ballad “I Will Always Love You.” (Fun fact: That was co-star Kevin Costner‘s idea when they were in need of a new theme, fast.) However, during the movie we get the threat of seeing Whitney-as-Rachel perform several other hits like “I’m Every Woman” and “I Have Nothing.”
It’s cheesy as hell, but it’s also a bonafide thriller. Yes, the tagline is Never let her out of your sight. Never let your guard down. Never fall in love. But the reason that Frank Farmer (Costner) enters Rachel’s life is terrifyingly convincing: A crazy fan has been sending the pop star death threats and targeting her family. The mysterious stalker strikes out at her concerts and sneaks into her home; nothing is sacred. The action keeps ratcheting up, with the stalker-turned-killer following Frank, Rachel, and her family out to an abandoned cabin in the woods. I’m not going to reveal who it is, but trust me that this movie keeps you on edge.