The man be­hind the sun­glasses

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES: REVIEWS - — Noel Mur­ray

Although he’s one of the most suc­cess­ful and fa­mous pop mu­si­cians of his era, Sean Combs has al­ways been some­thing of a mys­tery. Blame the ever-chang­ing stage names (Puffy, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Diddy, and count­ing) or the tim­ing of his big­gest hit-mak­ing years com­ing dur­ing a decade when hip-hop strug­gled to bal­ance main­stream ma­te­ri­al­ism, so­cial con­scious­ness and street cred.

What­ever the rea­son, the Daniel Kauf­man-di­rected doc­u­men­tary “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story” seems more in­ti­mate and re­veal­ing than these sorts of artist-ap­proved self­mytholo­gies usu­ally are — even if it fails to fill in all of Combs’ blanks in 80 min­utes. Com­posed of archival footage, re­flec­tive in­ter­views and fly-on-the-wall scenes of Combs re­hears­ing for a re­union tour with his for­mer Bad Boy Records la­bel-mates, “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” leans too hard on the petty crises and pre­dictable tri­umph of the con­certs, at the ex­pense of more fully ex­plor­ing the headi­ness of ‘90s rap. But the old and new per­for­mances are tune­ful and en­er­getic, and Kauf­man’s cam­eras catch Combs in an un­usu­ally pen­sive place and age (late 40s) as he looks back on old ri­val­ries and ab­sent friends.

It’s al­most as though Combs knows his public im­age re­mains fuzzy, caught among such la­bels as “mogul,” “crim­i­nal,” “sell­out,” and “un­der-ap­pre­ci­ated ge­nius.” Con­sider this movie a pur­pose­ful step to­ward ce­ment­ing a legacy.

Ap­ple Mu­sic

SEAN COMBS in a scene from a doc that is more re­veal­ing than most such artist-ap­proved ef­forts.

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