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NOTORIOUS, 2009
Movie Review

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NOTORIOUS, 2009
Movie Review
Directed by George Tillman Jr.
Starring: Jamal Woolard, Mohamed Dione
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

The life and death story of Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), who came straight out of Brooklyn to take the world of rap music by storm.

REVIEW:

The premise of NOTORIOUS, the real life story of Christopher 'Notorious B.I.G.' Wallace, is about making your dreams come true. It sticks with that idea from the first frame to the last shot.

"You have to change yourself first before you can change the word"
-- Sean Combs

That phrase keeps coming up throughout the film which is what Christopher Wallace wanted do to: Change the world.

Then as soon as he came to the realization that he changed himself into a man, he was shot down. It seems that Sean Combs was the last man standing to change things, and change things he did indeed.

In fact, I kind of wished it was more Puff Daddy's (or P. Diddy, Diddy, Puffy etc...) story than Notorious B.I.G's, because he was the one who seemed to understand the big picture and knew what battles to choose.

But this is the story of NOTORIOUS because he unfortunately died before he even hit his peak as an artist. 24 years old is a very young age to die. Christopher Wallace was perhaps too young to handle his own success. Big success comes big responsibilities and Wallce was too immature to truly understand the point of it all. And that's a great plot idea to tackle in the film as it's the first thing I thought about when I heard the movie was being shot. But they really didn't even attempt to go there.

Notorious is an interesting film, but more of a biography birth to death telling than an actual movie. The filmmakers seemed to have forgotten an overall theme and point to this bio-pic. I never got what they were truly trying to say with this story. The only thing I got was that we can make all our dreams come true -- but just make sure you're smart enough not to die too young.

I don't mean to sound insensitive by saying that, as I really wanted to know what made Notorious B.I.G. click.

Here was a boy becoming a man who had immense talent and skills. It shows his talent in the film, but that's not the point of making a bio-pic. It's about telling us what made this man who he was. WHY was he so brilliant? What made him stand out from the pack?

And if you answer that question, then you have yourself an actual entertaining and universal movie. Right now this is a film that doesn't hold up and is only made for a fringe audience that is a fan of his music.

Here is someone who rised and fell in a blink of a eye. Time will tell (or not tell) the imprint he made in the music business and the world in general. A unique looking man too who came from a world many people come from. The love his mother gives him is what makes him confident. And confidence goes a long way in forming someone's gifts in this world. But what else was there with Notorious B.I.G.? Am I the only one who wanted more from this movie?

They structure Notorious in two halves. The first half is his upbringing and rise to the level of a great musician. The second half is about his dealings with success.

This second half seems to be written more of a one-sided point of view than anything else. A lot of this section centers on his relationship, then conflict with Tupac and the West coast rappers. Tupac feels that Notorious set him up when he first got shot. This might of happened, but this is a movie that tells you there is no way it happened. Notorious is a good guy, bottom line! But the world isn't that black and white and these situations were prime stuff for great storytelling.

Unfortunately the creators of Notorious didn't go there at all.

So who is Christopher Wallace? The man who died at age 24 and never got the chance to hit his peak? I have absolutely no idea and that's a problem because after watching a two hour movie, you sort of hoped you'd be able to find out.

I'm sure a lot of people will like this film. I am personally not a regular listener to his kind of music so I am not into this scene. But the point of a movie like this is to show a guy like me what this world is and tell me the brilliance behind the man they are making the film about. All I found out was that I was interested more in Sean Combs and how he did things than the actual person the film is about.

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