Monday, April 27, 2009


2009. Rated R, 114 minutes.
Director: George Tillman, Jr. Starring Jamal Woolard, Derek Luke, Angela Bassett, Antonique Smith, Marc John Jeffries, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Amanda Christopher, Naturi Naughton, Anthony Mackie.

Plot: The life and times of Christopher Wallace, AKA The Notorious B.I.G.

The Good: Even better than simply not making our hero a saint, the movie doesn't try to justify his indiscretions. It's content to show him as a guy who often has to learn the hard way. It also manages to show him as thoughtful, if a bit selfish. Woolard in the title role is simply note-perfect. Unfortunately, he's so good and has a look enough like Biggie I can see him struggling to land other roles. Actually, the title role is shared by Woolard with Biggie's real-life son, Christopher Jordan Wallace, who ably plays his dad as a kid. The movie also makes effective use of Biggie's music as both a score and a soundtrack.

The Bad: I've often complained about movies, especially comedies, that simply run too long. However, I'm a firm believer that biopics should be at least two hours long. This one is a bit shy of that mark and suffers because of it. In particular, his various attempts at reconciliation with the women in his life are either glossed over or just plain left out as things between he and them go from bad to good instantaneously. It also limits character development in others who should/could have had major roles. Lil' Kim (Naturi Naughton) suffers the most as the script makes her completely selfish, lacking any compassion and most other human emotions besides anger. The circle around Biggie known as Junior MAFIA also suffers, only depicted as flunkies and hangers on when by most accounts he did have real friendships within the group. Even his friendship with Puffy is never dealt with.

The Ugly: How he gets "inspired" to make his hit song Juicy.

Recommendation: This is a pretty good biopic that sticks to the headlines from its subject's life. For hip hop fans, it's a worthy first entry into the genre. It could've used some more fleshing out to be great. Even though it's no disappointment, one can't help but wonder how much better a movie about Biggie's friend turned nemesis, the more interesting and dynamic personality Tupac Shakur, could be.

The Opposite View: Rob Daniel, Sky Movies

What the Internet Says: 6.0/10 on (4/27/09), 50% on, 60/100 on

MY SCORE: 7/10

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