Notorious is so highly anticipated that it’s almost impossible for it to please everyone. The story of Notorious B.I.G is in a word, complicated.
First there’s Biggie’s love triangle with Faith Evans and Lil’ Kim. The film doesn’t provide much clarity for anyone who wonders what was really going on between Biggie (played by Jamal Woolard) and his Junior Mafia protege. But if you’re to believe what is presented, Lil’ Kim (played by Naturi Naughton) is the ho he talked to on a sidewalk in Brooklyn and banged on the first date. And Faith (played by Antonique Smith) is the church girl he wifed but couldn’t be faithful to.
BTW: Biggie’s onscreen romp with Kim respectively, received a big gasp from the audience at a Washington, D.C. screening. Parents, be aware that this film has some graphic nudity.
Lil’ Kim is unhappy about the way she was portrayed in the film because she said it overlooked her and Biggie’s admiration for each other and the hard work that she put in to be a star. With respect to her and anyone else who agreed to be represented in the film but complained afterward, Notorious co-producer Wayne Barrow said to reporters, “Our job as producers was to deliver for three individuals. That’s his mom and his two children. Everybody else: Stand in line, buy a ticket and enjoy the show.” A Lil’ Kim movie will surely fill the void.
The film spends a lot of time on Biggie’s love-hate relationship with Tupac. It portrays Biggie and ‘Pac as homies who fell into hip-hop’s most unforgettable beef because they chose to believe what they heard from the media and business partners such as Diddy and Suge Knight.
The movie quickly writes off ‘Pac (played by Anthony Mackie) as a mad man. This is the only explanation viewers are left with for ‘Pac blaming Diddy (played Derek Luke) after being shot multiple times in 1994 at Quad Recording Studios in New York.
Derek Luke gets lots of laughs when he reenacts Diddy’s dance moves and onstage antics, and there are several tear-jerking moments, including some that only Voletta Wallace, Biggie’s mother and a producer for the film, could have provided. One of those is when Biggie calls home from jail and asks his mom (played by Angela Bassett) to at least pray for him after she refuses to bail him out.
Of course, we all know how the movie ends. It succeeds at showing the softer side of Notorious B.I.G., and what it lacks in answers, it more than makes up for in music and memories.
Notorious is a must-see for hip-hop fans and anyone who ever wondered why Notorious B.I.G. is called the greatest rapper who ever lived.
– Sabrina M. Parker
Photos courtesy Fox Searchlight