Sunday, January 25, 2009

Movie About Hip-Hop Legend Biggie is a NOTORIOUS Let-Down

Please be warned that this blog entry will mention some aspects of the movie "NOTORIOUS" which is based on the life of Biggie Smalls. So this is a ***SPOILER ALERT****

Ok, without mincing words, I will say that the movie stunk. Being an avid hip-hop fan, but, more specifically, a die-hard Bad Boy fan in the early days (I know, don't laugh)...I really feel that I could possibly have made a more dimensional movie then what is out now in the form of Notorious.

The movie weaves together the various patches of truth we know about Chris "Biggie Smalls" Wallace's life but adds absolutely nothing extra that may have lay beneath the public persona we knew and loved so well. We knew that Biggie was a very smart youngster who was bored in school and left to deal. We knew that Biggie and Lil Kim had a sexual relationship that prefaced his short-lived marriage to singer Faith Evans. We knew that Biggie was Puffy's golden-child of Bad Boy and chief player in Puffy's rise to become Diddy. We knew Biggie's mother was West Indian and really religious. We learned absolutely nothing more in this movie.

Each character was portrayed as superficially and two-dimensional as humanely possible. What was fun to watch, above anything else, was watching the actors mimic the celebrities showcased in this movie.

Derek Luke as Puffy was flat-out hilarious, (on-purpose I hope). He danced and gyrated in almost every scene that showed Biggie on stage. We watched him in his minks and glam metrosexual wardrobe and we got it-- he was doing Puffy. But that was it. There was absolutely no scene of Biggie and Puffy in dialogue kicking it or conversing as boys. Maybe that was intentional, showing us that Biggie and Puffy weren't as close as we were led to believe. But, there was absolutely no dimension to any of the relationships Biggie supposedley had-- whether it was with Lil Kim, his boy Lil Cease, his "manager" Mark or even his mother, played by Angela Bassett in her typical Angry Mama 101 manner.

What was especially lost in this movie was any type of illustration of why Biggie was important to us and significant as a hip-hop lyricist who, even after his death, is considered a legend. I'm not implying that it was necessary to deify him or create a false image of who he was in order to explain him. However, I do believe that it would have been easier and well-received if the movie's focus provided (and maybe focused more) on Biggie's lyrical style in context of the music game at the time. Biggie came during a time where thuggin and gangsta rap had taken a particular hold over the industry, despite hip-hop phenoms still on the scene (Tribe, Wu Tang, and the like) being pushed underground and passed over for acts that promoted product placement and sterotypical behavior that has grown to misrepresent the actual artform of MCing. Biggie, like TuPac, was an enigma in a sense because he represented both the start and the end of an era of a hip-hop form that many would say has truly grown stagnant over the years.

But, one of the film's producers, Wayne Barrow, made it clear that he could care less about those of who have problem's with the movie's depth and accuracy. He told CBS news: "Our job as producers ... was to deliver for three individuals. That's his mom and his two children. Everybody else: Stand in line, buy a ticket and enjoy the show."

So, if we didn't, do we get our money back?
Grade: D


The Artist said...

Well Let me say this I am more of a movie connoisseur
I love movies because again there is a camera involved and I tend to dissect every movie that I watch in its own right. I do agree there was nothing new brought to the forefront and I found myself judging the actors job on imitation and who they could have found better or not... it was entertaining to say the least. I was disturbed parents brought young...young children to the movie with no idea you would see "lil kim" bouncing on top of biggie in her birthday suit. If I ever needed to wonder what that looked like....well now I know... all in all could it have been done better...
Over all.... well that doesn't matter
Or does it...
Its just my opinion...right

Khadijah Ali-Coleman said...

I think we're on the same page for sure.