Saturday, November 7, 2009

Notorious. C+


Any fan of the rap music world will likely know the story of Christopher Wallace, AKA Biggie Smalls/the Notorious B.I.G, who rose to prominence in the 90s before his untimely death. His life is ideal biopic material, the story of a picked-on kid who drops out of school, does jail time, fathers a child, deals drugs, and ultimately finds success in his true passion: rapping. In the movie he's played by newcomer Jamal Woolard, who holds his own for the most part and gives a surprisingly effective performance. Wallace had a pretty decent childhood. Though his father wasn't there for him, he had a faithful, caring mother who gave him all the love he needed. But he fell victim of the idea that to become a man you have to do things that men do, not things that make men great. The entire introduction to Wallace's life is close to brilliant, especially the part where he is just a small boy (ironically played by the real-life son of The Notorious B.I.G, Christopher Wallace Jr.). But when success finds his way, I felt like the movie sort of gave up trying to tell a compelling story. It never really digs deep into how Wallace became big and when he does, we don't get the sense why he was worshiped by so many people. It was almost as if the filmmakers put all their energy into the beginning, and then sort of grew tired and tried to finish everything ASAP. And so by the end we don't really feel like we've just seen a portrait of a legend. The movie fails to capture what was so great about this man, and in the end I saw him merely as a person, despite having some solid moral principles (clearly a result of his mother's teachings) who was pretty rotten. (note there is also a movie entitled 'Notorious' from Alfred Hitchcock. You're probably better off seeing that instead)

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