Movie Review: ‘Notorious’

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, January 16, 2009 at 2:46 pm.

notorious-poster1Summary: A biopic about The Notorious B.I.G., a poor kid from Brooklyn who becomes an international hip-hop phenomenon. Caught up in the battle of east versus west coast rap, Biggie becomes a causality of war.

Review: Biggie was edgy, provocative, thought-provoking and went to any lengths for his art. He unapologetically spoke to the world about his realities, leaving some fearful and others amazed. The film “Notorious,” while filled with the best intentions, falls short of capturing what Christopher Wallace spit on wax. Sure, there is cussing, domestic violence, nudity and infidelity. Still, “Notorious” misses edge, a grit and presence that made the rapper a superstar. Throughout the film, there seemed to be a conscious effort to show the “other” side of him. Even though he was a hardcore rapper, telling tales of sex, guns and poverty, the message seemed hell-bent on stressing he was just a big ole teddy bear and family man. Who knows – maybe this the real story.

The film is well cast, which redeems much of the slugging storyline. You can’t spot one bad actor. Derek Luke as Puffy is solid. Angela Bassett fits smoothly as Voletta Wallace. Anthony Mackie as 2Pac is a perfect fit. Jamal Woodard as Biggie, the most inexperienced, gave a commendable performance. Regardless of what Lil’ Kim says, Naturi Naughton gave a worthy portrayal of Kimberly Jones—pre money and pre surgery.

There are many moments of “Notorious” I enjoyed. I am a fan and his songs are part of my musical history as a teenager. Therefore, industry insiders will experience nostalgia while watching the film, hardcore fans will simply enjoy “Notorious” because it’s Biggie. “Notorious” is a tribute the rapper’s contribution to pop culture.

Whatever the case, go buy his music. Every song still sounds modern over ten years later.

“Notorious” is in theatres today.

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