8 Mile

"Good"

8 Mile Review


OK, yes -- Eminem can act. In fact, he can carry a movie. The charismatically angry white hip-hop star is in every scene of "8 Mile" -- a film inspired in part by his own days as a hungry young rapper, scrapping his way through smack-down rhyme battles in mid-1990s Detroit. And while some may say he's not doing much more than playing himself, Eminem shows enough resourceful nuance and emotional intuition that he cannot be summarily dismissed.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's directed by Curtis Hanson, who has proven his acumen and passion for producing movies as inspired and extraordinary as "L.A. Confidential" and the off-kilter, tragically overlooked intellectual comedy "Wonder Boys."

The story here is not a rise-to-glory cliché with a lucrative recording contract waiting for the hero at the closing credits. It's a realistic, struggling-class drama about a tough kid from the white side of the Motor City ghetto who wants to prove himself as a rapper and "get out of the D."

Jimmy "B. Rabbit" Smith, Jr. works in a steel stamping shop where body panels are made for cars. He lives in a trailer park with his bipolar, hard-drinking mom (Kim Basinger in a rugged, resilient performance) and spends his free time with his big-talking buddies who are always sure they'll be "getting a big deal soon" from some phantom record company that will discover them.

What they do that deserves discovering is a big question mark, but Rabbit has an emerging talent for the rhymes and they believe in him, especially Future (Mekhi Phifer), a friend with his head screwed on straight who hosts rap battles at an underground club called "The Shelter."

The movie is bookended by two of these battles, in which contestants have 45 seconds to slur each other in ad-libbed hardcore rhymes set to a DJ-spun hip-hop backdrop while the audience cheers them on. The winner is decided by applause, and in the movie's first scene, Rabbit is booed off the stage when he flat-out chokes after being smacked down by a gangbanging street rapper called Papa Doc (Anthony Mackie).

"They don't laugh 'cause you're white/They laugh 'cause your white with a mic," Papa Doc improvs poetically. "This is hip-hop. You don't belong/You're a tourist."

Over the course of the next week, Rabbit's trust in himself waxes and wanes as he climbs the steepest part of a big hump in his life. If he can get over it, he'll probably be OK. But it's pretty clear that nothing ever comes easily to anyone living near 8 Mile Road, the dividing line between poor black and white neighborhoods in a bad part of Detroit that gives the film its title.

Screenwriter Scott Silver ("johns," "The Mod Squad") covers some obvious territory -- gang troubles, mom's abusive boyfriend, Rabbit's tender devotion to his baby sister, an encouraging love interest (sexy, trashy Brittany Murphy) with a hidden agenda -- but always with fresh and unexpected twists on formula. "8 Mile" is anything but a soundtrack-driven popcorn flick for a poseur musician to cash in on his popularity.

Hanson's direction is moody and exquisite, with cinematography that creates a sooty, gray ambiance and a polished narrative maturity that complements the music but never goes anywhere near MTV style. He also garners great performances across the board, especially from Basinger (whose work here is as good as in "L.A. Confidential"), Murphy (who sells even her cheesiest "I believe in you" lines with admirable credibility) and Phifer ("Paid in Full"), who lends depth and passion to his role as Rabbit's most faithful friend.

Throughout the film, Eminem proves his mettle right along with Rabbit, as the character's confidence in his skills on the mic builds palpably through impromptu rap battles that arise in club parking lots and even outside the roach-coach lunch truck at the steel plant. You can feel it when Rabbit is on his game, and you can tell how good it feels for him to have an inspired rap roll off his tongue.

But you can tell he's struggling right up until he really brings it on in a rematch with Papa Doc at The Shelter in the film's finale -- which also steers around the edges of hip-hop and underdog movie clichés.

The way this movie is made, the way this story is told, this is what is meant by the phrase "keepin' it real."



8 Mile

Facts and Figures

Run time: 110 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th November 2002

Box Office USA: $116.6M

Box Office Worldwide: $215M

Budget: $41M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 156 Rotten: 49

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jimmy B. "Rabbit" Smith, as David 'Future' Porter, as Stephanie Smith, as Alex, as Greg Buehl, as Janeane, as Papa Doc, as Cheddar Bob, Mike Bell as Shorty Mike, Proof as Lil'Tic

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

Advertisement
The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.