Notorious Aims Too Small

By-the-numbers rap biopic fails to bring Biggie's world to life
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2009 9:33 AM CST

(Newser) – The Biggie Smalls biopic Notorious efficiently recaps the murdered rapper's short life, but it's not a movie significant enough for one of rap's greats, say critics. Brooklyn rapper Jamal Woodard turns in a convincing performance, Chris Richards writes in the Washington Post, but he's rapping to a script that seems like "Biggie's Wikipedia page reformatted for the big screen."

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Notorious is a crisply made "exercise in nostalgia for hip-hop fans of a certain age," Dan DeLuca writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer, but it fails both as a tragedy and as an in-depth character study. The best way to remember Biggie, writes Dana Stevens in Slate, is to listen to "any of the virtuosic autobiographical raps in which Christopher Wallace paints his own world with more immediacy and wit than Notorious ever manages to muster." (Read more Notorious B.I.G. stories.)

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