A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
Positive 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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Frequent, colorful swearing -- from "bitch" to "s--t" and "f--k."
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Products & Purchases
A fair amount of name dropping and label flashing (sneakers and clothing, for example), and lots of bling.
Drinking, Drugs & 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).
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Rapper, son, father, lover, and poet, Biggie was a complicated man; NOTORIOUS does its best to render him fully, and it almost succeeds. There are lots of fascinating details (for instance, that young Christopher changed clothes on the roof of his building so that Voletta wouldn't wonder where he was getting the money to buy expensive name brands) and tons of drama (the implosion of Biggie's friendship with Tupac; the love triangle with Lil' Kim and Faith Evans).
Credit is due to the casting director who wisely picked Woolard, a rapper-actor who steps into Biggie's shoes and wears them more than comfortably. His Biggie is finely tuned, and he commands the mic in nearly the same way the rapper once did. The rest of the cast -- Derek Luke as Puffy, Anthony Mackie as Tupac -- also excels. Still, with so much ground to cover, Notorious glosses over moments -- how Biggie put his groundbreaking rhymes together and decided what stayed and went, for one -- on which it should linger. And with so much time spent on his troubles, the reconciliations and triumphs -- his impact on the music scene, for instance -- feel rushed. Nonetheless, Notorious rightly lets Biggie's music take center stage. Every time it comes on, we're reminded of Biggie's notoriety, charm, and genius.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.