Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics What's this?

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Mixed or average reviews- based on 65 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: In just a few short years, Notorious B.I.G. rose from the streets of Brooklyn to become one of the most influential hip hop artists of all time. B.I.G. was a gifted storyteller; his narratives about violent life on the streets were told with a gritty, objective realism that won him enormous respect and credibility. His stories were universal and gave a voice to his generation. (Fox Searchlight) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 32
  2. Negative: 2 out of 32
  1. 88
    A good film in many ways, but its best achievement is the casting of Jamal Woolard, a rapper named Gravy, in the title role.
  2. Engrossing biopic, throbbing with style and attitude.
  3. The director is a cinematic equivalent of his subject, but a man who was able to reach middle age and examine that culture's good and bad points with a clear, detached mind.
  4. 63
    After 110 minutes of the "n" word being deployed with abandon, Biggie vows to renounce it. And just like that a deluxe episode of "Behind the Music" turns into an evening at church.
  5. 50
    Notorious excels at showcasing Wallace's music and his magnetism as a performer: It fares less well at giving that music a proper context.
  6. 50
    What the picture doesn't do is make sense of the world it tries to depict, or even, truly, depict it. Biggie -- and, for that matter, Woolard -- deserved better.
  7. Reviewed by: Chris Richards
    Cloyingly, Biggie narrates his tale from the grave. It's a device that feels irksome and condescending.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 20
  2. Negative: 4 out of 20
  1. AshleyM.
    Jan 17, 2009
    I am a Big Biggie Fan and I know he died at the end but the movie move me so much to tears! He went before his time! I will always love Big Poppa!
  2. HenryF.
    Jan 31, 2009
    This movie really showed me how a person with real talent can grow up in the worst situations, and still end up at the top, no matter what. 8/10 for Notorious. Expand
  3. Aug 27, 2014
    There is some room for improvement in this movie but that didn't keep me from truly enjoying it. I watched this not knowing a thing about the Notorious B.I.G and I did not feel lost at any part in the movie. It is also a movie about music that actually contains a good amount of music from that artist. I'm thinking about checking out biggie after watching this movie. Expand
  4. Sasha
    Jan 16, 2009
    The actor has a resemblance to Biggie, but is missing the lazy eyes. The story leaves out the murders Biggie committed and the movie serves to prop him up as a hero instead of understand the true evil behind the man. That said, evaluating this movie not from a historically accurate lens allows us to see that a good film, with good acting exists on camera. Maybe it should just be fiction. Expand
  5. Oct 15, 2013
    An Average Movie, Could have been way better... The dialogue is too cheesy. Too many mistakes in comparison between what happened and the script (like for instance, Biggie doing his freestyle in the year 1990, and with a zoom out you get to see him standing next to a poster of 2Pac's movie "Juice" which was released in 1992)

    There has been too much emphasis on the characters that got me to think that Puff Daddy was an angel and an inspirating machine, with lots of fortune cookie quotes (No Wonder, he's the executive producer). and you get the feeling that 2Pac is nothing but a maniac, trying to turn him into a villain... The relationship between the characters where mysterious, you never get to know what happened between Biggie and Jan... or with Biggie and Faith after his accident. The scene before he was shot was OK, but filled with cheap drama...

    Nevertheless, the actors did a really good job. Angela Bassett aced in her performance as Voletta Williams. Naturi Naughton's portrayal of Lil Kim was really good, Antonique Smith as Faith Hill was a really promising performance. Jamal Woolard did the best he could to try to talk like Biggie..

    In a nutshell, it would have been a way better movie if there was much more investment on a better story! Kinda sad that Antoine Fuqua wasn't chosen to direct this, could have been better with him!
  6. ChadS.
    Jan 23, 2009
    For an indie-rock fan like myself, insulated from the casual scatology of gangsta rap, east coast/west coast in the early-to-mid-nineties, symbolized Chapel Hill's unsuccessful attempt to usurp Seattle as ground zero in the wake of the alternative rock explosion. Archers of Loaf's "Web in Front"("Stuck a pin in your backbone/Spoke it down from there...") should have been the scene's breakout song that challenged Kurt Cobain for his throne, and put North Carolina, front and center, in the nation's consciousness. Sad for the true believers, Eric Bachmann never was a household name, and never will be. But that's no reason to reach for your revolver and shoot Eddie Vedder, right? Watching "Notorious", it all came back to me, the sensational news report about musicians planning hits on each other like street gangs; a scenario that would seemed ludicrous, even for the equally squalid American hardcore scene. While all musical biopics sanitize their subjects, "Notorious" seems ill-fitted for the kid gloves treatment, you would think, since the appeal of Christopher Wallace's music was his song-as-documentary approach. "Notorious" doesn't keep it real. Save the sentimental scenes with his mother(Angela Bassett) for a Tyler Perry flick. Whitewashing the street out from The Notorious B.I.G.'s soul, robs his music and lyrics of its visceral tableau quality. "Notorious" demystifies gangsta rap by refuting the perception that both factions plotted the deaths of their two brightest stars. Gangsta rap, with all its violent imagery, nihilism, and misoginistic notions about women, can only be justified, as the argument is made time and time again by the genre's proponents, that it's a reflection of inner city life. If gangsta rap is not always unequivocally honest, which "Notorious" suggests, since the filmmaker absolves Wallace and his entourage from any part in Tupak Shakur's assassination, the two rap artists edge closer to being professional wrestlers, than men who talk and walk. Art imitating life is one thing, but if life is imitating an art that creates the life it purports to be imitating, then the naysayers have a point about rap being a menace to society. The novelty of a dead narrator goes all the way back to Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard" when William Holden did the honors, but Shakur fans might be rankled by the B.I.G.'s VO, since the documentary "Tupac: Resurrected" used the same tactic. Expand
  7. John
    Jan 17, 2009
    A bad film.Notorious is bored.

See all 20 User Reviews