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Notorious Review Critics


Dave White Profile

The notoriously cuddly B.I.G. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Notorious is like a piece of well-crafted bling. It looks good, and facets of it shine, but behind the gilded facade there's not much there. And what is there can be troubling and retrogressive.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    For a man apparently making his first film, Woolard carries the movie like a pro. Cross your fingers that this is no fluke, for this guy could be a real comer.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Notorious makes the death of Biggie Smalls look like a tragic mistake, instead of the outgrowth of a culture devoted to selling the fantasy of who's the biggest man.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    A good film in many ways, but its best achievement is the casting of Jamal Woolard, a rapper named Gravy, in the title role.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Notorious reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Gritty, affecting rapper biopic is too intense for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie about a real life rapper whose life was full of drugs, sex, and ultimately lethal violence. Because the movie is well made and exciting, kids might feel it glamorizes his way of life. The gritty-but-moving biopic takes an unflinching look at the life and death of rapper Notorious B.I.G. Raised on the hard-scrabble streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant, the groundbreaking musician carried guns, dealt drugs, went to prison, fell in love, cheated on his wife (and his girlfriend) ... and was gunned down at the age of 24. All of these events and more unfold onscreen -- accompanied by strong profanity, drinking, nudity, violence, and drug use -- making for a movie that's not only too intense for early teens and younger but one that demands discussion with older teens.

  • Families can talk about what appeals to teens about Biggie. Do they feel the film glamorizes him?
  • Do your teens think the movie is an accurate portrayal? Sympathetic? Critical?
  • How do your teens feel about Biggie's lyrics? And what messages do they take away from both his music and his life? Can they tell what the biases of the film makers are?
  • The film portrays Notorious B.I.G. and the world of hip-hop/rap. How does that industry, in turn, influence people who listen to the music it produces? Why do you think they've been so popular with both listeners and critics?
  • How accurate do you think the movie is? Why might filmmakers add or alter the truth in movies based on true stories?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages:  Men cheat on their significant others and sometimes disrespect them. Characters speak of and engage in physically abusive behavior, and there's also drug use, drinking, and family abandonment. But there's redemption, too, and a few friends seem refreshingly loyal against a backdrop of betrayal and deceit. The film also includes the still-unsolved murders of Biggie and Tupac.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: A son defies his mother by lying to her -- apparently he's been dealing drugs; she puts him out on the streets, and he later lands in prison. But his talent and commitment to his music see him through, despite complicated entanglements.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: A man roughs up the women he loves during arguments; rivals beat each other up or worse. Guns are shown, shots are fired, and two men wind up dead.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Some nudity during sex scenes -- including a woman sitting naked astride a man naked, her breasts fully bared. The same woman performs scantily clad onscreen and grabs her crotch. Some graphic discussion of sex acts.

  • language false4

    Language: Frequent, colorful swearing -- from "bitch" to "s--t" and "f--k."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: A fair amount of name dropping and label flashing (sneakers and clothing, for example), and lots of bling.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Dealers -- some of whom are children -- are shown mixing and trafficking drugs (mostly crack); some characters (including a pregnant woman) are depicted buying/using it. Some smoking and plenty of drinking (champagne and everything else).