So Notorious finally hits theaters nationwide today. Since I’m obviously not cool or credible or suck enough industry cock to have been invited to last week’s premiere festivities, I’m going to brave the cold and stand in line like a normal human being, watch it along with a whole bunch of rowdy mothafuckas on 42nd street. Last showing of the day. This is hip-hop, I’d have it no other way. Shit I may even call some of my 1994 friends just for the occasion.
This is the most hyped I’ve been to see a film since… since…since… ah fuck it, since I went to see the 5-hour long epic, Che`, at the IFC theater 2 weeks ago. So that’s not saying much.
Perhaps because the last major hip-hop biopic, 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin, was so terrible. I couldn’t even make it through that shit. Granted, 50 is no Biggie. And 8 Mile was cool, if not a tad cheesy in retrospect. But like, for some reason I keep thinking Notorious might be the equivalent of Vh1′s MC Hammer biopic Too Legit.
I think in some respects we get caught up in the nostalgia of it all. I see those trailers, with “Juicy” playing in em, and I just sit there and so many memories come to mind. So many good times.
But I caught some clips of the actual film itself, like this scene where Biggie meets Faith. Shit seems kinda ummm… I dunno… weak?
So far Rotten Tomatoes has the film getting a 54% approval rating, which isn’t bad considering that most film critics know zero about hip-hop and will have a hard time identifying with this film.
Some negative excerpts of reviews read:
“Notorious is a game of dress-up, the Greatest Hits version of Biggie’s life. But in the end, it fails to present a convincing argument of why we should care.”- Adam Graham Detroit News
“The script lets too much slide, and director George Tillman Jr. — whose biggest films have been Soul Food and the Barbershop franchise — abets it.”- Steven Whitty Newark Star-Ledger
“Notorious obviously loves its protagonist, but the movie can’t get past its own starstruck awe.”- Rene Rodriguez Miami Herald
Some postive excerpts read:
“Closer to Scorsese than Scarface, Notorious gives a heartfelt yet clear-eyed sendoff to the late Brooklyn rapper Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls aka the Notorious B.I.G.”- Kyle Smith New York Post
“A vivid biopic of the larger-than-life rap star that doesn’t require you be a big fan of the genre.”- Joey Guerra Houston Chronicle
“It’s unlikely there will be a better dramatization of the Biggie Smalls story than this one.”- Elizabeth Weitzman New York Daily News
Thing is, a film like Notorious could really hurt Big’s legacy in the long run. To a large extent, movies are what shape people’s perceptions of characters. That’s the reason why actors are so micromanaged in their private lives. Because people who watch Spiderman really think Toby Maguire is Spiderman! It’s called protecting the franchise. If Biggie is portrayed in a cheesy way, he’ll be remembered as such. Unless they make another movie about him later on down the line (which I don’t see happening, it was hard enough getting this one made).
Some folks have already seen the movie, but again I think their opinions are very biased because they have a real connection to hip-hop and/or the music industry. I want to know what the 13 year old kid in middle America, who doesn’t even know who Biggie really is, thinks about this movie, and what he now thinks he knows about Christopher Wallace. Then again, maybe the purpose of the film isn’t to educate, but just to cash in on that market of people who are longtime fans of the guy.
If you’ve seen the film, please do, speak on it!