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Notorious

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Jan. 21 2009, Published 6:20 a.m. ET

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(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Starring: Jamal Woolard, Derek Luke

Christopher Wallace (Notorious B.I.G.) was killed in a drive-by shooting more than a decade ago, but with the new film Notorious, he’s back to blazing, rhyme-spitting life on the (no pun intended!) big screen. Directed by George Tillman Jr. (Soul Food), the movie traces Biggie’s life back to his days as a Catholic-school honor student (played by his real-life son, Christopher Jordan Wallace) living in Brooklyn with his single mother (a dignified Angela Bassett) and through the ensuing years of skyrocketing fame, with — as his own song goes — "mo money, mo problems." Jamal Woolard, himself a Brooklyn rapper, plays the grown-up Wallace and does an excellent job of showing his character as a flawed man who, by the end of his short life, was trying to do good. The film also boasts a great supporting cast, including Derek Luke as Sean "Puffy" Combs and Anthony Mackie as the rapper’s West Coast rival, the late Tupac Shakur. Fans of Biggie surely won’t be disappointed, and Notorious might very well land him some new ones.

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