a critiQal film review 8 Mile (2002)

Plot: Jimmy “Rabbit” Smith Jr. (Eminem) lives in inner city Detroit. He just broke up with his girlfriend, works at a steel stamping plant, and has moved back home to live with his mom (Basinger) and little sister. His dreams of making it big in the music business have taking a turn for the worst since he choked at the last big MC battle. Will he be able to drag himself out of his slump - thanks to support from new girl Alex (Murphy) - and make it big in the next MC battle, or will he choke again?

457 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 17s)
  • ...Eminem may be playing himself, but Kim Basinger is the shining light in this film.

Hype seems to abound with 8 Mile. Amid rumors of an affair on the set (Basinger and Eminem!), this film also marks the debut of Eminem in feature films…and there are talks of Oscar contention! C’mon. I’ll tell you one thing …Eminem is smart. Rather then try something challenging, he starts off playing himself, basically. Can he pull it off? I don’t know …could you play you (under a different name) in a movie?

Eminem acts just like himself easily. I don’t know if he’s worthy of all this Oscar contention, since he’s not really stretching. Have him take on a different role, something a bit different than his own history, and see how he does, then talk about Oscar contention. Kim Basinger, as Eminem’s trailer-trash mom, plays her role easily, and brings real depth to her small role in the film. Brittany Murphy shows a different side, and a trashier look, in this film. She basically just follows along with Eminem, and you can’t tell who’s helping who the most. Wonder what her boyfriend Austin Kutcher (Dude, Where’s My Car?) thought of her trashy look?

8 Mile is a basic re-telling of Eminem’s life. He chokes at first, then must overcome increasing obstacles to shine. Not too involved. A simple plot for a simple film. There are some interesting moments…the rap battles being the best parts. The film almost seems to be just an elongated Eminem music video…just him rapping away, and letting the plot fall where it may. Lucky for him, the director keeps pulling the movie back on track after his rants, so the storyline does continue through the film…but sometimes it seems to be hanging on by a thin thread.

Director Curtis Hanson definitely captured the gritty look of inner city Detroit. From the trailer being just trashy enough, to the car, to the clothing …everything seems to fall into place to create a definite atmosphere for the film. It’s a bit smoky, it’s a bit dirty, but you’ll find yourself captured by it’s distinct realism just the same The atmosphere of 8 Mile is what keeps it from turning into just another music video, and propels it to film status.

All in all, not a bad effort for Eminem’s first foray into feature films. 8 Mile doesn’t change his image at all, so he won’t worry about fans thinking he’s selling out. After all, he’s just playing himself.

Is it worth it to watch 8 Mile? Only if you’re a fan of Eminem and rap music. If you’re not, try Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (2002). It may be a little more up your alley.

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