The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Review-Notorious

By Alex Muhindura/entertainment editor

The larger-than-life persona of Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace has been brought on screen for the biopic Notorious. The authentic and compelling story makes a decent movie that rap fans must see.

The film begins with a young Wallace walking down the street of his Brooklyn neighborhood with his mother. A respectful young boy, he attends a private school and receives good grades. He has dreams of fame and fortune but is ridiculed by his classmates.

“You’re too fat, black and ugly,” one girl says.

As he grows up, the lure of a quick buck on the streets ensnares him. Wallace discovers he has a way with words but remains infatuated with the cash from crack sales instead. As his business venture grows, he eventually ends up in prison where he sublimates his frustration and helplessness into rhymes.

After another run-in with the cops, a friend takes the rap for him and tells him to straighten out his life. Biggie is then introduced to Sean “Puffy” Combs, an up-and-coming producer, who promises to make him a millionaire by his 21st birthday.

As his career takes off, the trappings of fame are illustrated. The movie takes a turn when fellow rapper Tupac Shakur is robbed and shot outside of Biggie’s building. Tupac’s paranoia leads to a feud between the two, fomented by the media into a coastal rap war. Tupac’s murder prevents a truce of any kind, and Biggie, unfortunately, becomes a marked man.

After leaving a promotion party for his second CD, a car pulls up alongside his Chevy Suburban and riddles the passenger side with bullets, snuffing out the life of one of rap’s heavyweights.

The movie, like Biggie’s life, is entertaining and full of energy. Jamal Woolard, a relative unknown, gives a wonderful, subdued performance, and he mastered Biggie’s baritone Brooklyn accent. Angela Bassett also shines as his grief-stricken mother, and Derek Luke perfectly channeled Combs’ flamboyant flair. 

All the major points of his brief life are shown and accurately portrayed. Director George Tillman Jr. also did a great job of letting the story tell itself and staying out of the way. He neither preaches about Biggie’s lifestyle or glorifies it.

One of the highlights is the seamless integration of his music into the movie. Moviegoers simultaneously started nodding their heads when “Hypnotize” and “Juicy” played.

The best part of the movie comes at the end during his funeral procession. The director put in the original footage of the cars rolling through his Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The streets, stoops and balconies are lined with mourners who have come to catch a glimpse of their hometown hero. At some point, a man turns on his radio to “Hypnotize” and the streets erupt into a frenzy.

Rather than mourning, they celebrate the life of their fallen one.

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