instantly began thinking that Notorious B.I.G.’s first single made me feel the same way I did when I a great job of capturing that feeling. It really is a magical movie experience.
There is nothing special about the film’s execution. “Notorious” is a conventional biopic that chronicles Biggies life in a traditional manner starting when he was a kid growing up in Brooklyn who got involved in the drug trade as a teen only to escape the mean streets through music who became an international rap superstar only to find out that more money equals more problems shortly before his untimely death on the streets of Los Angeles.
The selling point of “Notorious” is Jamal Woolard's portrayal of Biggie. It’s a great performance as the novice actor remarkably transforms into the Brooklyn rapper. At times I was convinced Woolard was actually Biggie. His performance is on the same level as Angela Bassett's performance as Tina Turner in “What’s Love got to do with It” and Jamie Foxx’s performance as Ray Charles in “Ray.”
The rest of the casting is hit and miss. The hits include Derek Luke who looks nothing like Puff Daddy but is commendable as Sean “Diddy” Combs (he really got Diddy’s signature dance down), Angela Bassett is solid as Voletta Wallace Biggie’s mother and newcomer Antonique Smith does a decent job as Faith Evans. However, Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur fails miserably but honestly he never really had a fair chance to succeed. Tupac was such an engaging personality there is virtually no one on the planet who could pull it off and Mackie doesn’t. And speaking of larger than life personalities, newcomer Naturi Naughton tries her best to pull off playing Lil’ Kim but can’t quite deliver the miniature rapper’s grand personality.
At the center of “Notorious” is a grocery store tabloid like romantic triangle as the movie spends a considerable amount of time on the love triangle between Biggie, Lil’ Kim and singer Faith Evans. The love angle works and is highly entertaining but steals away time from the music and how Biggie became a gifted word smith.
“Notorious” succeeds when it focuses on the music and the impact Biggies' rhymes had on his fans. Yes, “Notorious” will appeal mostly to Hip Hop heads. It’s a Hip Hop classic. But it’s also a universal story that will appeal to those who don’t mind a bit of profanity, sexuality and some violence.