B.I.G. deal

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Among the producers of Notorious, which follows the life and death of the Notorious B.I.G., aka Chris Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls, are Sean Combs and Voletta Wallace, the rapper's mother.

That may be why the film paints such a rosy picture of one of the key figures of the violent East Coast-West Coast rap war, and suggests the feud was merely a misunderstanding by a paranoid Tupac Shakur and a totally innocent Biggie.

Past questions of accuracy, Notorious is a pretty straightforward, if bland, biopic of a man who lived a lot of his life in the public eye.

Abandoning his Catholic school honor student ways to deal drugs on Brooklyn street corners, Chris (played as a child by Biggie's son, Christopher Wallace Jr., and as an adult by Jamal Woolard) seemed destined for either life on the streets or rapping about it. It was a meeting with Combs (Derek Luke) that made him pull himself together and try to make it as a rapper.

Notorious doesn't utilize its strongest weapon, leaving Angela Basset little to do as Voletta, especially when Biggie's life starts to revolve around love interests Lil' Kim and Faith Evans. Similarly, there isn't much depth to Combs or Tupac (Anthony Mackie), despite their tremendous impact on Biggie's life.

Still, it remains an engaging picture of a rising talent prematurely cut down, and any excuse to listen to "Hypnotize" again is a good one.


Opens Friday

Grade: B-