One of the most anticipated music biopics in years hits theaters tomorrow: Notorious, which portrays the story of murdered Brooklyn MC Biggie Smalls' youth and rise from drug dealer to one of the most influential rappers of his time. Rolling Stone's Peter Travers says the film's strongest link — aside from Big's own music, which is flowing throughout — is star Jamal "Gravy" Woolard's first-ever performance. RS spoke to Woolard about the role, and he admitted that making B.I.G.'s mother proud was his top priority. "I just wanted to read Ms. Wallace's face," Woolard said after B.I.G. 's mother saw a screening. "She was taking her glasses off, with a tissue and wiping her eyes. I felt like I won my victory, because I wanted her to feel like her son was next to her. And we hugged. We didn't have to say anymore after that.""
The film is about as official a Biggie movie that you can get: Producers include Biggie's mom Voletta Wallace and Sean Diddy" Combs, and it's based on the authorized biography by Cheo Hodari Coker. Christopher "CJ" Wallace Jr., Biggie's son with Faith Evans, plays the role of his father as a young boy. "You can't fight that," Travers writes in his 2-and-a-half star review, "And you may not want to."
Travers also takes on Defiance, a Holocaust war story about a band of brothers that's unfortunately undermined by Hollywood clichés. Plus, make room in the scum bucket for yet another canine flick: Hotel For Dogs.