Make no mistake, “Notorious,” while certainly educational for the fans of Christopher Wallace, is not a movie for the family to see. An “R” rating might be a little on the modest side; drugs, violence, language, body shots, this movie is the reason why parents go ballistic over rap music. While there is a deeper message here (it’s always nice to see a young man make the most of his situation), it’s buried underneath a Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) nightmare.
Of course, for adult fans of the rapper, this movie could be considered biographical gold. The story follows the rise, peak, and tragic death of Christopher Wallace a.k.a Notorious B.I.G. First timer Jamal Woolard’s portrayal of the hip-hop star is spot on, and while nobody can imitate the rapping prowess of the real Biggie Smalls, it’s hard to fault Woolard when he does a great job of capturing the basics of Biggie’s style.
Throughout the movie the audience is introduced to various influences on Wallace’s life, and apparently none of them were good ones. Even Sean “Puffy” Combs, portrayed by Derek Luke, gives the impression of a less than reputable character, constantly offering Wallace choices in the form of ultimatums. While the choice between the “studio and the streets” may be an easy one, it’s kind of awkward to see a life altering choice like that offered from someone who got a nickname smoking pot.
Lil’ Kim and Tupac Shakur, played by Naturi Naughton and Anthony Mackie respectively, give passable yet seemingly biased performances. Here’s hoping for the bio movies on them in the near future to clear up the questions surrounding Kim’s possessive nature and the true nature of Tupac’s death.
Luckily, the whole movie isn’t rivalries and crazy women. Wallace’s mother Voletta Wallace, portrayed by Angela Bassett, is a caring mother.
The Voletta-Christopher dynamic is an interesting one to watch, and is a decent break from the vulgarity of the rest of the film.
At the end of the day, this movie isn’t meant to be an end all account of the rapper’s life. It’s not meant to be an easy on the mind feel good show. This movie is gritty, vulgar, full of ups and downs, and without shame in portraying what it wants the audience to hear, the way Wallace would have wanted.
Sadly, the way Wallace would have wanted isn’t exactly what the kids and immature teenagers, who will undoubtedly end up seeing this movie, need to see. At the end of the day, its a good movie. People with maturity should proceed with caution; people still eating Happy Meals should avoid at all costs.