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Notorious

Release Date: 
01/16/2009
Rated: 
MPAA: R
Star Rating: 
5 out of 10
Directed by: George Tillman

The Skinny: First off, there's nothing skinny about this movie; it's protagonist and plot are very, very large. Raised in the hood by a single pious mother (played excellently by Angela Bassett), Notorious chronicles the life, times and tragic death of NYC rapping sensation Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G. From his earnest upbringing to teenage years spent hustling crack to his brief time on top, Notorious aims to reveal the multifaceted man behind rap's most timeless and transcendent rhymes.

The Good: For something that feels like it belongs on Lifetime, there are actually a few very satisfying high points. Dead (no pun intended) ringer Jamal Woolard plays Biggie with affable authenticity, while Derek Luke nails Puffy's dance moves to hilarious effect. Add love triangles and the infamous East Coast vs. West Coast rap war, and you've got some almost Shakespearean plot lines.

The Bad: By trying to cram in as much information as possible, Notorious feels more like an episode of VH1's Behind The Music and less like an in-depth character study of an obviously tormented man. You can't help but feel like you were given a cursory overview of a life that deserved far deeper story telling.

Is this a modern retelling of the classic Hitchcock film?: No, it isn't.

Theater, DVD, or TNT in Five Years? Make it a DVD rental to follow up your umpteenth viewing of the "Mo Money Mo Problems" video.