Introduction and criticism
Well, even at the risk of getting in trouble with the hip-hoppers out there: the legacy adaption of Rap-Star Notorious B.I.G. is a total failure. At the moment, biopics of musicians are much in demand (WALK THE LINE, RAY), most of them are quite entertaining and in consideration of the medium close to reality. Now this cannot be stated of NOTORIOUS.
The respective fan is offered a cuddly teddy bear, which indeed sells drugs to pregnant women but still loves his Mom und prays with her together at the phone. He brims over with sex appeal, has nothing to do than showing his faithful dog eyes and all the good looking girls jump in his bed and ride their Big-Poppa up to wildest orgasm. Christopher Wallace aka "Biggie Smalls" aka "Notorious B.I.G." also has close friends like Damien "D-Roc" Butler, who walks in stir for him just with one wish "Biggie, make the best of your life, I love you !", coming back after years and doesn’t even want anything from him. So, may be some bucks for the time in jail? Nothing the brother like buddy doesn’t want, he is purified with a pure heart. Hallelujah, I am melting away in the emotions of such a devoted grace of charity. Honest.....
No, I think the reality probably was a little different. He might has been (without knowing him better) a reckless drug dealer, who was, because of his huge figure and his musical talent, discovered and promoted by the greedy producer Puff Daddy. The girls – above all the following Rap-Queen Lil' Kim – jumped in his bed because they were fed up with all the ghetto raunchiness and prefer more a guy with influence and money before ending up receiving crack in a dealers gangbang. Interesting too, is that Lil' Kim was sent to jail in 2005 for one year due to participation in a gunfight and Mr. Clean D-Roc even got 10 years in 2001 for related crimes, so much for that. Notorious ambivalent behavior towards his colleague Tupac Shakur as well as his main influence on the rivalry between the East and West Coast Rap Culture is only rudimentary mentioned.
Who was responsible for this glorifying hymn? A glance on the producers list gives partly an answer: there are named in accordance besides Sean "P.Diddy / Puff Daddy / Puffy" Combs also Mark Pitts (in his capacity as former B.I.G. manager) as well as Mom Voletta Wallace. Especially Voletta Wallace was responsible for the cuddle scenes and when at the end of the funeral procession through New York a flashback of the ideal world with grace is shown and later on her voice thick with tears sounds from the Off when she looks at the roadside crowd "My son, Christopher Wallace, told stories. Some of them were funny, some of them were sad, some of them there were violent but people listened." (...) "...but I find solace in knowing that he became a man and he was ready to live. As I looked out to all those face, something happened. Someone in the crowd turned on the radio...and I could hear my son’s voice!" I am about to lose my temper of such emotions.
Compared are the rated R theatrical version with the unrated directors cut, recently released in the US on one DVD. In principle both version are almost identical because the differences are only countless minimal shot extensions, unimportant additional takes and few alternative frame material. Who expects more sex and violence or even more profoundness in any way feels deceived. Senseless is the word which first came into my mind. No further extras available, both versions are in the anamorphic wide screen 2.40 with English DD 5.1 and three subtitles, that's it.
Due to the countless tiny changes I partly enumerated the differences in blocks and did not illustrate every frame difference. That’s because there is no reason for and I would still sit here next week. And by all means it can be that I’ve forgotten a frame here and there (if for example a guy walking back in the background and in the other version he walks forward); therefore I beg your pardon. So, enough rubbish talk, let‘s begin the canticle!
Do you got it, homey?
Directly before the title insert some shots of the assassin can be admired in the unrated version. Besides, the last take of the car driving into the sunset cross-fades into the title.
( 17 sec. )
Another short take of Puff Daddy and more focus depth onto the guard in the foreground.
( 3 sec. )
After the congratulations for the new album one take of the outside waiting car is missing.
( 8 sec. )
Little BIG meets his Daddy. In the theatrical version Daddy then turns to Voletta who gazes him longer before turning towards BIG. In the unrated version Daddy’s view rests on little BIG followed by a cut onto the boy eyeballing the strange man. A noteworthy running time difference doesn’t come off.
After Voletta said "Christopher, say hello to your father" the following shots are also different. In the unrated version BIG first faces his mother then his father. Shot onto Daddy. ( 3 sec. )
In the theatrical version the boy is eyeballing his father. ( 2 sec. )
Total difference = ( 1 sec. )
IN THE APARTMENT A DIALOG BETWEEN VOLETTA AND DADDY
This rather short sequence where BIG’s Mom and Dad are sitting at the table in the apartment talking to each other, while little BIG is listening, has been cut differently in both versions with minor changes. Therefore I will summarize it in one block. In this short dialog the only noteworthy difference is an additional dialog at the beginning: "You are still beautiful, Voletta!" "If that's what you came for you can leave right now". Apart from that there are some extended shots here and there but meaningless.
Unrated version = 53 seconds
Theatrical version = 37,5 seconds
Total difference: ( 15,5 sec. )
After little BIG watches his Dad leaving from the window there is some more frame material in the unrated version. His mother opens the door, BIG turns around. Voletta looks at him tender-hearted and orders: "It's time for bed, Mister!" whereon BIG is sitting on the bed. ( 10 sec. ) From "He ain’t coming back, is he?" on, both versions again are running parallel. As alternative there is an additional shot of the already on the bed sitting and sighing BIG, there is a knocking in the background and Mom opens the door. ( 3 sec. )
Total difference = ( 7 sec. )
Ha, there is also sound censorship! When little BIG sits on the stairs writing song texts, looking after the gold draped kiddies and finally jumps up, in the theatrical version after "I decided to stop being that little kid on the stoop" there only is the chorus ("Hey Ho") as background music. On the other hand in the unrated version the narrator tells a little more: "I wanted to be like them brothers on the block. They didn't hold their heads down for no one."There certainly is no running time difference!
When Jay brings Biggie up the wonderful message that they’ll receive a baby, only in the unrated version he looks at her a little bit longer speechless.
( 1 sec. )
The kissing also takes longer in the unrated version....
( 1 sec. )
Only in the theatrical version his girlfriend puts the bubblegum back into her mouth.
( 1,5 sec.)
When Biggie calls his Mom from jail there are three more shots in the unrated version and also the following conversation: "So, it's like that?" "It is like that!"
( 13 sec. )
When Biggie prays with his Mom there is a minor change of the settings in both versions.
When Biggie and his crew coming to visit Puff Daddy in his office the close-up of his buddy starts a little earlier.
( 9 SF )
Puff makes his offer to BIG. After the last close-up view of his face Biggie looks at him, then looks at his crew and turns around towards Puff who is asking "So, you're in?", until the both versions again synchronize with the following nod in agreement.
( 8 sec. )
In the next shot Biggie leaves the store and opens a beverage can. This runs a little longer in the theatrical version (32 single frames)
Therefore there are 3 additional shots in the unrated version when Biggie observes some known dealer faces on the street (4,5 seconds)
Total difference: ( 3 sec. )
When Puff gives Biggie his rejection on the street the farewell takes a little longer in the unrated version. Also Mark Pitts gives a hug to little Biggie again. (11,5 Sek. )
In the theatrical version the concluding knee-shot of Biggie starts a little earlier (2 sec. )
Total difference: ( 9,5 sec. )
Biggie and D-Roc, busted again. After the Cop put his weapon on the table and they both face each other, there is a little extension in the unrated version. The Cop takes the bubblegum out of his mouth and the cap off his head.
( 3 sec. )
In the unrated version the shot of the Cop takes a little longer and there is one more in addition.
( 1,5 sec. )
After D-Roc has sacrificed himself there are some more shots in the unrated version.
( 4 sec. )
Only in the theatrical version the narrator tells Biggie something while covering his thick mother in a blanket: "Doctors got all the cancer out of her. My Mom was gonna live, and me ? I was finally gonna change my life." In the unrated version this takes place in devotional silence.
Biggie amuses himself with the two bitches. Here, the unrated version is a little longer and differently cutted. For example there are some closer views to admire and during the bj one can hear a gargled "Yeah? Yeah? How that feel?".
Unrated version: (19 seconds)
Theatrical version: (12 seconds)
Total difference: ( 7 sec. )
Again a little extension of three insignificant takes from the party for the debut album.
Unrated version: ( 9 seconds)
Theatrical version (4,5 seconds)
Total difference: ( 4,5 sec. )
Jeez, again an unimportant extension followed by an additional ultrashort take in the unrated version.
Unrated version: ( 10 seconds)
Theatrical version: (4,5 seconds)
Total difference: ( 5,5 sec. )
Puff is waving bye-bye, after that there are two more additional shots and one extension in the unrated version.
( 6,5 sec. )
Now I am fed up. After the shot of the two waitresses until the first shot when Puff enters the stage and Biggies performance starts, both versions are completely different cutted whereas the takes contains nonrelevant party stuff. As a whole the unrated version runs longer because there were als some additional shots inserted. I will only show some examples of the scenery and not all the frames … otherwise I will still be here at Christmas.
Unrated version: (26 seconds)
Theatrical version: (12 seconds)
Total difference: ( 14 sec. )
Only in the unrated version there is another preceding shot of Tupac. Therefore his question "What's up, homey?" is already positioned in Biggie’s back view in the theatrical version.
( 3 sec. )
In the theatrical version the last sentences Tupac bubbles into the camera are missing: "If I ain't holdin' my dick, sleepin' and then you holdin' it, bitch!"
( 2,5 sec. )
After the scene where Biggie’s wife gets visited from his ex girlfriend along with the child, there is a fade back onto the concert. That is where the unrated version significantly runs longer also containing some alternative settings.
( 66,5 sec. )
After Fay catches Biggie red-handed with the groupie, the first takes of the following sequence where Fay horribly singing records the song is missing. Thank you so much cutter.
( 26,5 sec. )
An additional fast in a row mounted take where Biggie and Lil’Kim being photographed.
( 9 sec. )
A little change in a dialog line. In the theatrical version when Tupac wants to visit Biggie in the studio it says:"Come on, man. You know he’s doing his thing." - "Just make sure they're working."
On the other hand in the unrated version it says: "Just make sure they're working. We gonna make sure this paper's flowing."
( 1,5 sec. )
In the unrated version the scene with the injured Tupac in the elevator runs a little longer. His buddy presses his hand against the wound and also has to push the buttons.
( 4,5 sec. )
Minimal differences when Tupac leaning on his buddy leaves the elevator. No running time difference.
Again a tiny extension in the theatrical version. At the Source – Awards, after the appearance of the Death-Row-Boss, Puff’s last sentence: "Yo, we gotta rise above this" is missing in the unrated version.
( 3,5 sec. )
The concert where Biggie performs his hit "Who shot ya?" runs a little longer in the unrated version. Measured from the point where both versions run asynchronous until to the shot of the news watching black. Besides this the unrated version has two more alternative shots at the end.
Unrated version: ( 33,5 sec. )
Theatrical version: ( 4 sec. )
Total difference: ( 29,5 sec. )
After the accident a shot onto the TV.
( 1 sec. )
Alternative take of the TV screen.
D-Roc visits Biggie at the hospital. Only in the unrated version he shows him a picture of his new born son.
( 10 sec. )
Biggie with Puff. In the unrated version there is one more dialog line: "I think I am, Puff, but there's a couple of things I wanna talk to you about." "What's on your mind, Big?"
( 8 sec. )
Party in L.A....in the unrated version there are three shots of the assassin, in the theatrical version two alternative shots of the party.
Unrated version: ( 8 seconds)
Theatrical version: ( 4 seconds)
Total difference: ( 4 Sek. )