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Product Overview

Chronicling the extraordinary life of Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace, Notorious follows the young rapper from the tough streets of Brooklyn to the heights of superstardom as he juggles the increasing demands of fatherhood, marriage and a music career. Amid chaos and controversy, Biggie's remarkable talent and fierce determination help to solidify his legacy as one of hip-hop's greatest MCs.


Studio Foxvideo
SKU 210819628
UPC 024543582410
UPC 14 00024543582410
Format DVD
Release Date 4/21/2009
Rating Rating
Murder Investigations
Music (General)
New York City
Rap Artists
Rap Music
Rap/Hip Hop
Theatrical Release
True Story
Editors Note
Note The dramatic retelling of the life, improbable rise, and violent fall of rapper Christopher Wallace (aka the Notorious B.I.G.), NOTORIOUS plays like A STAR IS BORN set to a rattling gangsta snare. With crisp direction by George Tillman Jr., producer of the BARBERSHOP series, the film is briskly paced and strikes a worthy balance between sensationalized celebrity biopic and behind-the-scenes drama. Angela Bassett anchors the latter with a nuanced performance as Voletta, Wallace?s long-suffering single mother who attempts to shelter him from the mean streets of Bed-Stuy.^With deep involvement by those who knew him best--the real Voletta Wallace and Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs (played dynamically by Derek Luke) co-produced--the film nonetheless unflinchingly portrays Biggie?s troubled history as a teenage crack dealer, his chronic infidelity and poor fathering skills, and his own role in stoking the ludicrous coastal rivalry that claimed both his and Tupac Shakur?s lives. As it presents Biggie's side of the murders in boldface, one wonders if a more independent eye would cast Shakur and his cohorts in the villain role so starkly. Documentary quibbles aside, NOTORIOUS delivers an impactful tribute to its subject's genius--revealing to fans and neophytes alike the microphone skills, narrative chops, and fresh vision that made Wallace one of hip-hop?s greatest all-time MCs. Largely, this is due to the ace performance by Jamal Woolard, an amateur rapper who packed on 50 pounds to play the hulking gangsta, and nails his mordant charisma and conflicted inner life with a star turn every bit as on point as Jamie Foxx?s Ray Charles or Val Kilmer?s Jim Morrison.
Box Office 4 stars out of 5 -- "As a biography interested in an honest swath of Wallace's life, NOTORIOUS' broad appeal will welcome and satiate both the devout and the curious..." 01/14/2009
New York Times "[R]easonably faithful to the facts of Biggie's life and wholeheartedly devoted to burnishing his myth." 01/16/2009
USA Today "Most noteworthy is the movie's stunning cinematography and powerful soundtrack....The ensemble is solid, and Jamal Woolard is strong as Biggie." 01/16/2009
Los Angeles Times "[L]ike Biggie, NOTORIOUS has fine time along the way, with Woolard channeling the rapper's sweetness and wit as comfortably as his pathos....Through it all are the rhymes and the music, hugely enjoyable in their own right..." 01/16/2008
Variety "NOTORIOUS is a rock-solid biopic with a foolproof rise-and-fall storyline and a warmly nuanced performance by Jamal Woolard as iconic rapper Christopher Wallace -- aka Biggie Smalls..." 01/11/2009
Entertainment Weekly "NOTORIOUS is a luridly unapologetic trip through the violence, hunger, verbal bravado, and money fever of the hip-hop world, which it views as both liberating and destructive....NOTORIOUS has a fascinating trajectory..." -- Grade: B 01/16/2009
Chicago Sun-Times "NOTORIOUS is a good film in many ways, but its best achievement is the casting of Jamal Woolard..." 01/14/2009
Rolling Stone "Woolard, a Brooklyn rapper known as Gravy, has not previous acting experience. Yet his portrayal amounts to a Biggie resurrection....He's a knockout." 02/05/2009
George Tillman
Derek Luke
Anthony Mackie
Angela Bassett
Jamal Woolard
Cast & Crew
Derek Luke - Star
Anthony Mackie - Star
Antonique Smith - Star
Angela Bassett - Star
Dennis White - Star
Julia Pace Mitchell - Star
Naturi Naughton - Star
Jamal Woolard - Star
Wayne Barrow - Producer
Trish Hofmann - Producer
Voletta Wallace - Producer
Cheo Hodari Coker - Screenwriter
Reggie Rock Bythewood - Screenwriter
Diddy - Executive Producer
Robert Teitel - Producer
Danny Elfman - Composer
Michael Grady - Director of Photography
Mark Pitts - Producer
George Tillman Jr. - Director
Technical Info
Original Release Date 2009
Catalog ID 2258241
UPC 00024543582410
Number of Discs 2
Running Time 129 minutes
Color Color
Aspect Ratio
Widescreen  2.40:1
ReviewSource ReelViews
Review Last year, when I heard about a film on the way called Notorious, I was concerned that there would be an "updating" of Alfred Hitchcock's film of the same name. Thankfully, this is not the case. Notorious is not an example of a remake, but it is an example of a whitewash. A bio-pic of the influential '90s rapper Notorious B.I.G. a.ka. Biggie Smalls a.k.a. Christopher Wallace, Notorious purports to provide an intimate perspective of the iconic figure's life. Considering that his mother and close friend are listed among the co-producers and his son plays him as a child, one can safely assume this does not present an unbiased account of the facts. The film, directed by George Tillman Jr., effectively neuters any thuggishness in Biggie's character, leaving us with a protagonist who is essentially a good man guilty of having made some bad decisions...In the lead role, Jamal Wooldard is effective. He has the requisite physical presence although there are times when his acting shows signs of stiffness. When it comes to the rap scenes, however, he comes alive, shaking off any vestiges of woodenness like sawdust, and bringing Biggie boldly to life...In the final analysis, Notorious is a fairly standard rags-to-riches story, set in the world of rap music. A few of the notes may be different but the tune is familiar. While it provides us with a protagonist we can sympathize with, it does little to make the uneducated understand why Biggie was important and what his contribution was to rap beyond representing the face of the East Coast faction. There's a workmanlike quality to the movie and fans of the rapper will likely be pleased with (at a minimum) the soundtrack. For those who do not number themselves among the Notorious B.I.G.'s song-buying public, there's nothing about this production that makes it worth searching out.
Reviewer James Berardinelli
ReviewRating 7
ReviewSource Chicago Sun-Times
Review Documentaries about B.I.G. have focused on the final years of his life. "Notorious" tells us of a bright kid who was abandoned by his father, raised by a mother from Jamaica who laid down the rules and told the kids on the playground he would be famous some day. "You too fat, too black and too ugly," a girl tells him. He just looks at her. He is sweet-tempered, even after being seduced into the street-corner crack business, but he sounds tough in his rap songs -- tough, introspective, autobiographical and a gifted writer..."Notorious" is a good film in many ways, but its best achievement is the casting of Jamal Woolard, a rapper named Gravy, in the title role. He looks uncannily like the original, and Antonique Smith is a ringer for B.I.G.'s wife, singer Faith Evans. Woolard already knew how to perform, but took voice lessons for six months at Juilliard to master B.I.G.'s sound...He performs a lot of music in the film, all of it plot-driven, sure to become a best-selling soundtrack. As an actor, he conveys the singer's complex personality: a mother's boy, a womanizer, an artist who accepts career guidance from his managers, a sentimentalist, an ominous presence...George Tillman Jr. and his producing partner Robert Teitel are Chicagoans who have, together and separately, been involved in some of the best recent films about African-American and minority characters: "Nothing Like the Holidays," "Soul Food," "Men of Honor," both "Barbershop" pictures, "Beauty Shop." None of these films are sanctimonious, none preach, but in an unobtrusive way, they harbor positive convictions...In "Notorious," they show how talent can lift a kid up off the street corner, but can't protect him in a culture of violence. The whole gangsta rap posture was dangerous, as B.I.G. and Tupac proved.
Reviewer Roger Ebert
ReviewRating 9
DVD, Collector's Edition, Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 2.40:1, English, French, Spanish, Subtitled
Product Attributes
Actor Woolard,Jamal
Label Fox Home Entertainment
Music Format DVD
Video Format DVD
Allison Samuels, Newsweek Though there was little surprise by the end...[Notorious] still managed to stun, unsettle and move me.
Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader Engrossing biopic, throbbing with style and attitude.
Jenni Miller, Premiere ...Bassett is great as his strict, single mother; the soundtrack is great, of course; and the ending features moving archival footage...
John Anderson, Variety A rock-solid biopic with a foolproof rise-and-fall storyline and a warmly nuanced performance by Jamal Woolard.
Kyle Smith, New York Post Much closer to Scorsese than "Scarface," "Notorious" gives a heartfelt yet clear-eyed sendoff to the late Brooklyn rapper Christopher Wallace.

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