November 21, 2005 12:00 PM

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Joy Bryant

Don’t tell the folks over at Coca-Cola, but sometimes the real thing isn’t what’s needed. Take rapper Curtis Jackson, better known to fans worldwide by his nom de hip-hop, 50 Cent. Although he’s basically playing himself in the semiautobiographical Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Jackson is stolid and inexpressive, and one keeps wondering whether handing the role over to a real actor would have given the film more oomph. The man lived it, he just can’t play it.

Get Rich tells how Jackson, called Marcus here, was orphaned as a child, began dealing drugs early, lived the thug life on New York City’s mean streets and then nearly died of multiple gunshot wounds before embracing fatherhood and becoming a leading music star. The movie has its moments, but too much of it plays like other tough-times-in-the-‘hood flicks, with Jackson neither skilled nor charismatic enough to make it distinctive. Which is disappointing, given that the movie is directed by talented Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan (In America) and features yet another electric performance by Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow), who portrays Marcus’s pal and manager. Now there’s an actor who could have made this movie about a rapper sing. (R)

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