5 things I learned from Notorious

Biggie’s biopic hit theaters this weekend and I just knew it would break the bank and come in as the No. 1 movie. But noooo, it came in at No. 4, while Paul Blart: Mall Cop took the top spot.

I’m ashamed of you all.

Oh well, guess the bootleggers won this round. Bitterness aside, do yourself a favor and check out the film. I absolutely loved it (and by now, I’m sure you know that I hate just about everything). Although there was a great possibility that Notorious would be a glorified VH1 special, it came off very well.

I won’t spoil the film for you – other than the fact that Biggie dies at the end *GASP*! – but here are five things that crossed my mind as I left the theater.

Everyone was well cast BUT:

Jamal Woolard, AKA “Gravy”, the dumb rapper who was shot in the butt a few years ago, made me believe I was really watching Big on the screen, full of charm and energy. Angela Bassett was convincing as Biggie’s loving but stern mom, Anthony Mackie was as bipolar and irritating as 2pac was in real life and I SWEAR that Antonique Smith looked and sang EXACTLY like Biggie’s estranged wife Faith Evans.

But LOL at Derek Luke playing Puffy. Luke did a good job, don’t get me wrong, but Puff was portrayed as some kind of moral compass for Biggie, not the Tasmanian-devil-like tyrant we all know he is. Sure, he danced around like a buffoon like his real-life counterpart, but he spent more time giving sage advice than he did screaming and hollering, which is what he usually does. I’m surprised they didn’t make Luke wear a mortarboard and monocle.

No wonder Kim was so mad:

If you haven’t heard, Lil Kim has been running around for the past month telling everyone in earshot that she wasn’t portrayed correctly in the movie. Honestly, I think she was portrayed accurately, but the truth hurts – she looked like a jealous groupie most of the time. And her complaints about Naturi Naughton not looking like her were wrong – sorta. Naughton looked just like pre-surgery Kim. I’m told Michael Jackson wasn’t available for the post-surgery scenes.

Lil’ Cease was Biggie’s butler:

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Biggie’s crony Lil Cease. Sure, he’s a horrendous rapper but there’s a certain charm amidst his wackness. I’m not ashamed to admit that I loved his 1999 album “The Wonderful World of Cease A Leo.” While I was very interested to see how he’d be used in the movie, he pretty much came off as Biggie’s doorstop. “Cease, get the car!” “Bring him up here, Cease” “Where my weed at, Cease?” “You wash my draws yet, Cease?” Geez, give a brother a break.

Black and ugly as ever/however…:

Biggie was one ugly dude. But he had charisma for days, and I’m glad Gravy was able to convey that. Ever wonder how Big got all those girls? It’s because he could sell snow to a polar bear. It’s not all that surprising – a man with the ability to create such intricate stories lyrically had to possess a quick wit. As quickly as he could piss you off, he’d make you laugh. Plus, I guess groupies will sleep with just about anybody, no matter how creepy the guy looks. How else could you explain Lil Wayne procreating?

I miss the 90s:

The era of music from 1993 to 1997 or so was just amazing, and listening to the great songs of that time during the film brought me back. Every head in the theater was bobbing to Biggie’s performance of “Warning.” And when Faith sang “You Used To Love Me” there were about five or six ladies singing along. There were literally classic songs being released monthly. Ah, the good old days.

If you saw the movie, share your thoughts.

3 Comments

  1. Ed, I’m afraid to admit. I paid $10.50 for a ticket, and between the crying baby and Lil’ Kim’s XX-rated love scenes, I want my money back. I could have waited to see this on VH-1. Angela Bassett gives a great performance, and so does “Gravy”. Who was that FIONE gentleman, who was one of his managers? Now, he was worth $10.50.

    I digress–Not knowing too much about Biggie (“the man” or “the rapper”, I thought the movie was alright. I do appreciate some of his lyrics, and the thought and creativity he put in them. I would’ve liked to see the movie explore more of his “transformation”… not just a “because I got shot and Puffy said I need to do this” mentality.

    And I gotta take up for Lil’ Kim. So, she knew how to get down in the bedroom. If she was just a groupie to Big, why didn’t Puffy correct the situation–if she was a nuisance to one of his highest paid artist, why was she/he so accessible? I think they could’ve devoted more of a story line to their relationship, but if you think about it…whose side of the story were they telling? Of course BIG’s mom wants her son painted in the most positive light, (and maybe Faith, too, out of respect for her children), but you can’t “sugar coat” bad stuff in order to make it look good. I’d like to hear what Kim has to say.

    Overall, it was “okay”. (I do agree with the Tupac character, he was a little too ADHD for me.)I don’t ever care to see it again. I will say, it was nice to see the old heads swaying in their seats to some of this classic cuts; however, I didn’t appreciated little Pookie and Ray-Ray running up and down the aisles dancing, knowing their snotting nose behinds should’ve been in the bed sleep!

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. You paid $10.50? That’s why I went to the matinee. Times is hard, playa.

    Anyway, I do agree that they could have spent more time on the “transformation” of Biggie from hustler to rapper to man/father. I’m pretty knowledgeable about Big’s life and they skipped a LOT. I was shocked they completely left out Charli Baltimore who was a pretty big factor in his life, more than Lil Kim. But there’s only so much you can do in two hours.

    I can’t get with you on the Kim thing, though. She’s a grown woman, she knew she wasn’t wifey – yet she kept playing herself. Yeah, Big was wrong, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position. And despite how the movie portrayed him, don’t look for Puff to be a moral compass. Big could have been sleeping with a cactus, Puff wouldn’t care as long as it made him money. And Kim made both of them money.

    Guess I won’t be giving you a Notorious DVD for you birthday. It’s cool, I was just gonna give you the bootleg anyway.

  3. I know im a bit late on the this post but i watched the movie last night in the comfort of my own home. :)

    Anyway, i agree with your character analysis. I dont even remember what pre sugery Kim looked like so i was sitting there trying to figure out if the girl looked like her or not but visions of puffy cheeks and collagen lips just kept popping into my head.

    The Puffy character was so funny to me. I do think he did a good job of getting down the mannerisms though although they were at times a bit exaggerated.

    And Gravy was great as Biggie there were times i had to remind myself that that wasnt Biggie resurrected.

    Good movie…don’t know if i would have paid $9.25 to see it though.

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