by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Man, that Cary Grant is a great actor. I read that he was really great in Notorious, so I rented it and the buzz was right. He was incredible. Who could have dreamed that he could play a young, 400-pound black gangsta rapper? I though DeNiro's transformation in Raging Bull was impressive, but this impersonation makes DeNiro's look as unimpressive as when I put on my wax mustache for Halloween and St Swithun's Day.

Oh, that Swithun! What a saint, and what a guy!

Although it is a biographical story about an actual gangsta rapper (Chris Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls) who died violently, Notorious is an amazingly square movie about a middle class private school kid raised by a straight-laced teacher. Biggie had to adopt a rugged street persona to achieve street cred, and sometimes just to survive the streets of Brooklyn. Although Notorious doesn't shy away from the unsavory elements of the rapper's life, it's really about how he finally learned how to get beyond all that, to live without the false front and become a man. And it's about how his life was taken from him almost immediately after he figured out how to live it.

If that sounds like a sanitized, obsequious hagiography of the life of Biggie Smalls, it's probably safe to say that's because the producers of the film include Biggie's mother and his good friend Sean Combs. Who knows? Perhaps it's God's honest truth, and Biggie was just a lovable ol' momma's boy who lived the life of a generic Hollywood rise-and-fall story. Or perhaps the character is presented the way his momma wanted him to be. Or perhaps the story was deliberately crafted to maximize its profit potential by appealing to a cross-over audience instead of just focusing on the hard-core rap market. I don't know. I do know that it turned out to be a remarkably accessible film which I enjoyed watching, even though it's two hours long and filled with gangsta rap, a musical style I don't find very appealing at all.  Given that, I have to think that you'll like it a lot if this happens to be your kind of music. The general consensus is that actor/rapper Jamal Woolard brings back Biggie with uncanny accuracy.

Possibly even better than Cary Grant would have done.

I wouldn't know about that, but I know it's a pretty good yarn, a lot like a B.I.G. song.


  • Naturi Naughton, as Lil Kim, shows all.
  • There is a topless hooker in a record studio orgy scene.

Our Grade:

This film is a:


Solid studio pic. Much better film than you would expect from the 5.9 at IMDb.  (Explanation of our system.)

Special edition DVD DVD




3.5 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)
50 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
60 (of 100)





5.9 IMDB summary (of 10)
B+ Yahoo Movies






Box Office Mojo. It grossed $37 million. It had an outstanding opening weekend of $23 million, but then proceeded to drop precipitously.