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Notorious

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Raised by his single mom (Angela Bassett), the young Christopher Wallace (played by Wallace’s real-life son) is a straight-A student who becomes disenchanted with his grade-school education and starts hustling drugs at an early age to show he’s not just “the kid on the stoop.” After he grows up, he starts rapping as the Notorious B.I.G. (Jamal Woolard) and cuts a demo that eventually catches the attention of young record exec Sean “Puffy” Combs (Derek Luke), who aspires to make the portly rapper into a star and does, even though it ends up costing the rapper his life. While it’s not a particularly strong performance, Woolard is quite good at conveying Biggie’s natural charm, especially during his interactions with the various women in his life. It’s too bad this film, as much as it’s an accurate portrayal of Biggie’s life, doesn’t spend a bit more time developing a character who as a kid was told he was “too fat, black and ugly” to amount to anything. HH 1/2

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