Follow TV Tropes


Film / Notorious (2009)

Go To
No dream is too big.

Notorious is a 2009 Biopic about the life and death of Brooklyn rapper Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G., starring fellow Brooklynite and rapper Jamal "Gravy" Woolard as Big Poppa himself. The film also stars Derek Luke as Sean Combs, Angela Bassett as Voletta Wallace (Biggie's mother), Antonique Smith as Faith Evans, Naturi Naughton as Lil Kim, and Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur.

Woolard would later reprise his role as Biggie in the Tupac biopic All Eyez on Me, eight years later.

Not to be confused with Notorious (1946), a midcentury spy thriller.

I love it when you call me Big Tropa!:

  • The '70s: Biggie’s childhood.
  • The '80s: Biggie’s teenage years.
  • The '90s: Biggie’s music career.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • In the scene where Biggie engages in a rap battle in Brooklyn, a poster for Juice can be seen for a brief moment. This scene is based on a moment in Biggie's life where he was freestyling outside of a Brooklyn bodega in 1989, whereas Juice began filming in March of 1991 and didn't begin its marketing until late that year.
  • Badass Boast: The song “Hit Em Up” by Tupac is considered this.
  • Biopic: The film as a whole received mixed to positive reviews, but Jamal Woolward's performance was praised by nearly all who saw it.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Biggie has the potential to be good in school, but he skipped classes because he would rather pursue a life as a drug dealer.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: How Christopher Wallace feels about being a crack dealer. But then he goes to jail and his mother refuses to pay his bail, so that he understands the consequences of what he has done.
  • Despair Event Horizon: When Puffy breaks the bad news that he got fired from Uptown Records, which means Biggie's deal also falls through, he gives up on rapping temporarily and goes back to selling drugs. This gets him thrown in jail, where he rediscovers his passion for rap.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Biggie understandably hates it when his mother calls him “Chrissy Poo.”
  • Even Evil Has Standards: D-Roc refuses to sell crack to a pregnant woman, while Chris is fine with it.
  • Fat Bastard: Biggie eventually becomes this.
  • Get Out!: Twice in this film.
    • The teacher tells Biggie to get out of his classroom after Biggie compares his salary to a salary of a garbage man.
    • Biggie's mother also tells Biggie to get out of her house after Biggie is revealed to be selling drugs.
  • Good Parents: Biggie’s mother was a loving mother towards her only son. Biggie himself zig-zags this trope with his daughter he had with Jan. He’s accused of being a deadbeat, but he did love his daughter.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Given he only appears twice in the film, Suge Knight is not a major character in the film. But he is presented as creating the East Coast-West Coast Rivalry and seems to have brought out the worst in Tupac.
  • Heel–Face Turn: When Big is locked up for being caught selling drugs, he decides he will keep pursuing his rap career against all odds, to make his mother proud and provide for his daughter.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Biggie is given this throughout the whole film but a notable example is in the final stretch, after Tupac's death. Upon hearing the news, Biggie undergoes a borderline Despair Event Horizon and is extremely saddened by his former friend's passing. Afterwards, he decides to make amends with everyone and focus on making more positive music. To say this is not an accurate reflection of the real history is an understatement, and there is no mention made of the numerous disses Biggie hurled at Tupac around that time period and after, including "The Ugliest" which he made with Busta Rhymes and "Long Kiss Goodnight", which he rapped on the radio in Los Angeles shortly before his murder.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: As mentioned above, Biggie's role in the beef with Tupac is massively downplayed here, and that extends to Puffy, who is proven to have thrown some barbs Pac's way on his own on mixtapes. In the film, Biggie and Puffy are clearly uncomfortable with and confused by Tupac's increasing hostility and paranoia, and deliberately refuse to stoop to his level. Biggie playing along with the idea that "Who Shot Ya" is a diss towards Pac is treated as the sole yet crucial defining moment the beef really turns ugly.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The film insists that "Who Shot Ya" was not written as a diss track to Tupac (which is true as it was written some time before Tupac's shooting in Quad Studios), but Biggie decides to embrace the common misconception at a concert, which helps set off the East Coast-West Coast beef. In real life, Biggie showed no sign of personally embracing "Who Shot Ya" as a possible Tupac diss; if anything, Bad Boy itself did by releasing it shortly after Tupac's shooting.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Lil Kim and Biggie was this until the latter married Faith.
  • Hypocrite: Biggie cheats on Faith multiple times, but loses his cool by attacking her whenever he believes she's sleeping with Tupac.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Biggie resorts to drug dealing to support his baby’s mother, Jan and his daughter.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Biggie is convinced that rapping over Mtume's "Juicy Fruit" will earn him ridicule, as he and his friends crack up just hearing the beat. Little does he know, this will become one of his greatest hits, and go on to be considered one of the greatest hip-hop songs of all time.
    Biggie: If I spit this, niggas gonna be laughin' at me!
    Puffy: If you spit this, niggas gonna be laughin' at you all the way to the bank, Big!
  • Killed Off for Real: Tupac and Biggie both get shot and killed.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Tupac blames Biggie for being set up to be robbed and shot at Quad Studios.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • At one point, Biggie can be seen in a red and black plaid jacket with a matching hat, a reference to his song, "Juicy".
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Faith beats the everloving crap out of the mistress she caught Biggie cheating on her with.
  • Oh, Crap!: Puffy immediately recognizes how awful things will be when Suge Knight's thinly veiled insults to Bad Boy will become the East Coast-West Coast Rivalry.
  • The One Who Made It Out: D-Rock goes to jail so Chris can make it as a rapper. D-Rock later is released and is proud of Biggie Smalls.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Angela Bassett portrays Voletta Wallace, a Jamaican immigrant, and tries to put on the accent but it sounds like a mid-Atlantic accent with some Jamaican twang more than anything.
  • True Companions: Puffy is this to Biggie, he really does want the best for Biggie. After doubting Puffy could support him, Biggie truly gives up drug dealing and becomes a star.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • While he started off as a decent guy, Biggie starts doing questionable things (beating Lil Kim and his wife Faith) in the climax of the film.
    • Tupac is first seen as a fun, if volatile, guy who is a friend of Biggie. After the Quad studio shooting, he is always extremely hostile to Biggie Smalls, lies about sleeping with Faith Evans, and seems to be escalating the East Coast-West Coast rivalry.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: D-Roc is not happy with Biggie selling crack to a pregnant woman. Biggie retorts that he's not "no social worker".
  • Where Are They Now: The pregnant addict is later shown as a sober mother.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Biggie and Tupac eventually become this, as this was the apparent cause of both of their deaths.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Biggie attacks Faith after he accuses her of sleeping with Tupac.