There are few figures in the music business who inspire the same level of revulsion as Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs, the producer and recording industry maven who introduced rapper the Notorious B.I.G. to the world and then rode him through life, death and countless profitable resurrections. He jump-started his own lackluster rap career by insinuating himself into tracks recorded by the hip-hop megastar and then sold millions of copies of his own ‘tribute’ to B.I.G after the legend had been slain at the tender age of 24.
It is no surprise, then, that the film ‘Notorious’, which proclaims to be a biopic telling the life of the young rap impresario is little more than yet another masturbatory venture from Combs intended to continue the beatification of his long-dead cash cow. Puff Daddy, Puffy, P. Diddy, whatever ridiculous moniker is currently tickling his fancy is the master of self-promotion and as such this uninspired, Lifetime-movie-of-the-week re-telling of Christopher ‘Biggie Smalls’ Wallace’s rise from the streets to hip-hop royalty is crammed full of vignettes showcasing his own role in Biggie’s career.
Combs, who executive produced this tedious film presents himself as some kind of messiah, a cult of personality figure who not only promises the Notorious one that together they will ‘change the world’, but also joins him onstage for ridiculous karaoke renditions of the rapper’s hit tracks. I guess in a sense they did change the world, paving the way for endless MTV reality shows focusing on ‘artists’ even less talented than Combs getting raked over the coals for not ‘being real’ enough to suck his platinum-encrusted dick for the duration of the series.
These musical interludes are amongst the film’s weakest moments. Sadly, the rapper cast as Wallace cannot hold a candle to Biggie’s stage presence or rhyme flow, no matter how many fatburgers he wolfed down while bulking up for the role like some kind of ghetto DeNiro method actor. Lil’ Kim, B.I.G.’s consort was reportedly critical of her portrayal in the film, which is bizarre considering that increasing her screen time would have meant an NC-17 rating due to an even greater degree of nudity and the requisite microphone penetration scenes. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to watch a midget ride a 400-lb man to orgasm, then Notorious is definitely the film for you.
Notorious fails to delve into any particular moral evaluation or deeper meaning behind the slaying of Christopher Wallace, with the facts of his life paraded in front the audience like a rote presentation being given by a 6th grade social studies student. Like P. Diddy, style is favored over substance and the fact that viewers are left feeling absolutely nothing after watching a promising young man gunned down in the prime of his life is telling indeed. I can hardly wait for the DVD which will no doubt contain at least 10 ‘remixed’ versions of the film where all of the actors are digitally replaced by Combs and all of the dialogue is sampled from a much better movie like Spartacus or Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.
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