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on April 16, 2003
So here it is, the movie �debut� of Eminem, the man once referred to by President Bush as 'the most dangerous threat to American children since polio'. Directed by Curtis Hanson (previously responsible for the excellent LA Confidential), Marshall Mathers III stars as Jimmy �B. Rabbit� Smith, a wannabe rapper struggling to break of a life of poverty on the wrong side of Detroit�s 8 Mile Road.
8 Mile opens with B. Rabbit about to go on stage to take part in an open mic rap contest at a rap venue called �The Shelter�. Plagued by nerves, he throws up in the bathroom and down his sweater before going on stage, where in front of a cynical and somewhat hostile back audience he completely dries up in an embarrassing case of stage fright. Homeless and car-less after splitting up with his �pregnant� girlfriend he has to return to his mother�s trailer home, whereupon he disturbs his mother (Kim Basinger) mid-coital with her younger lover Greg. As if that is not embarrassing enough his mother later confides to a horrified Rabbit that she is having problems with her sex life because Greg wont go down on her.
Almost everything in 8 Mile suggests that this is less than fiction and whilst perhaps not quite autobiographical it is certainly quasi-autobiographical. Much like a pre-superstardom Eminem, his character Jimmy has an absentee father, he hangs around with a multiracial crew and takes part in rapping competitions. Jimmy�s mother is a drunken fool neglecting her four-year old daughter, whilst living with a no-good loser virtually the same age as her son, in a squalid trailer. Jimmy�s crew dream of becoming rap stars and see their rhyming skills as being their best hope of getting out of the inner city deprivation and urban wasteland of America�s famous motor city. However, whilst dreaming of a way out of the urban wasteland and poverty that surrounds him Rabbit still has to work a day job in a steel pressing plant where his boss gives him a hard time for his time-keeping and attitude.
Eminem is not just the most famous rapper in America, he is quite simply the biggest star on the planet. In the superstardom stakes he is, if you will pardon the comparison, the new Michael Jackson (without the chimp, the plastic surgery, the dance moves and with a great deal more profanity). Of course 8 Mile isn't actually Eminem�s film debut; that was in The Wash, Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg's ill-conceived remake of the 70�s flick �Car Wash�, where he made a cameo appearance as a phone-stalker psycho. As The Wash proved, rap artists don�t necessarily make great actors or great films (remember Vanilla Ice in the cringeworthy Cold As Ice anyone?) and with the exception of Ice Cube and Tupac Shakur, very few have actually made the transition from music to movies as well as this.
Perhaps not an obviously heroic figure Eminem's public persona has been somewhat modified in his role as Jimmy �Rabbit� Smith. Jimmy�s actions are anti-homophobic (he comes to the defence of one of his gay colleagues), he is positively passive (rather than verbally violent) to all the women in his life regardless of how much they wrong him. Indeed the movie opens with Rabbit having given his car and home away to his ex-girlfriend who claims to be pregnant and he returns to his mom�s trailer where he raps an improvised lullaby to his little sister. For much of the movie, Rabbit is a brooding somewhat introverted character. He travels to his work on the bus, headphones on, hooded and scribbling down new ideas for lyrics. However the movie and Eminem both come alive during the rap battles, which are central to the plot, where rival rappers verbally tear each other limb from limb in front of a hostile crowd. Taunting Rabbit with cries of �Elvis� and comments about his mother and their trailer park home, this is Eminem in his equivalent of Rocky�s boxing ring or General Maximus Decimus Meridus�s coliseum. Rabbit must overcome his own fears and self-doubt in order to emerge triumphant.
Out-with this critics will say that Director Curtis Hanson (The Wonder Boys) has deliberately restricted Eminem to a range of acting, which does not require much flexing of thespian muscle. However, this is something of a moot point because it works. Eminem looks good. It is a credible and understated performance and 8 Mile is an entertaining and uplifting movie, which showcases his great talent. As always, Curtis Hanson�s direction is flawless and he has surrounded Slim Shady with an excellent supporting cast. In particular, Mekhi Phifer (ER) as Rabbit�s best buddy �Future�, Brittany Murphy (Don�t Say A Word) as would be trashy new girlfriend Alex, Evan Jones as the dopey Cheddar Bob and Kim Basinger are all excellent.
Perhaps not the most original story ever told, 8 Mile has been compared to Rocky, Saturday Night Fever and A Star Is Born. However, it is refreshing to see that 8 Mile is free of a traditional Hollywood ending and instead finishes on a more realistic note with an important message; Dreams cannot be realised if all you do is dream. Hard work and perseverance are the keys to success and the only person you can totally rely upon is yourself.
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on October 29, 2003
I can save two hours of your life: 8Mile is the exact same movie as The Karate Kid.
Eminem is Daniel LaRusso. Mekhi Phifer is Mr. Miyagi. Brittany Murphy is Ali Mills (the love interest). And all the mean Detroit rappers are the Cobra Kai's.
The movie comes to climax as the reluctant warrior (Daniel-San/Eminem) battles at a open-mic "tournament." Just when you thought your wounded hero was down for the count he delivers a crushing blow that defeats the evil bully rappers.
This movie isn't horrible - but it ain't great either. Curtis Hanson did a much better job on LA Confidential.
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on July 5, 2004
The people who made this movie a success are the same people that buy Em's records and didn't even look at hip-hop as being a legitimate art form till a blonde hair, blue eyed non-threatening white man did it.
Em tramps around with all the black folks in the city as he lives the life of the "oppressed white rapper." the violent black men throw the word "niggah" around, calling each other "faggots" (funny how he uses that word but avoids the N word when he has used that word several times in a song he wrote in 1992), fight each other, showing their stereotypical savagery. what a sad story.... he experiences "racism" and his goals is to triumph over the Negroes and of course he does.
there is a bizarre scene with Kim Basinger's character watching a movie called Imitation of Life, which is classic movie about a multiracial child, I still cant understand the point of this ... there are some implicit racial overtones in this movie that have yet to be talked about.
A side from this vapid storyline the acting is weak except for maybe Kim Basinger... Brittany Murphy is completely unbelievable that she is "down" with the hip-hop crowd. It is embarrassing to see her dance sexy to the hip hop music, i doubt Brittany has ever been in 99% black club in her life.... Em's acting works like Madonna's acting did in Desperately Seeking Susan - it isn't that hard to play yourself .. or is it?
What ashame a movie like this blows up but hip-hop movies like Belly, the Streetz Is Watching or even the legendary Krush Groove cant even touch its success.
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on March 22, 2004
Okay, so like, Eminem is a poor white rapper on the wrong side of town in Detroit. The roads are numbered, and 8 mile is the bad area where the prostitutes are. I know this, because Maleficent lived near (but not in 8 mile, heavens no!) there.
Apparently, there's a whole rap culture going on. Eminem, playing a guy named Rabbit, finally starts to realize that the world he lives in sucks. Actually, he's always known that, but he was embarassed about it. The movie is about him coming to terms with who he is and where he comes from.
And that's about it. For the most part, 8 Mile is a very clean movie. It has all the same plot of a Rocky movie -- poor guy competes against big winner against all odds. Big bad winner has an outside-of-the-competition conflict with underdgo/protagonist. There's a girl from whom the protagonist draws his strength. And he has friends who are faithful to him to the end.
There's some important differences. In this movie, the girl is actually a [...] sleeping her way to the top. But the movie recognizes that her way is just as valid as anyone else's to get out of the hell hole they live in.
Additionally, the whole final contest -- a freestyle showdown involving rap -- is basically meaningless. Winning isn't about the admiration of people who could give a crap if Rabbit lives or dies. It's about him finally putting his demons to rest by admitting he's white trash. Rabbit draws upon the raw ugliness of his background to pull himself up by his bootstraps -- not his girlfriend, not his family, and not his friends.
And for that, you can respect Rabbit. At the end of the movie, he doesn't go on to become a rapping champion or getting that sweet record deal. He goes back to work.
Formulaic? Yes. Is Eminem a great actor? Hardly. But the movie doesn't try to be more than it is, and for that it earns my respect.
The only thing that seriously mars it is Eminem's "I'm friends to all the gays" rap. His gay pal covers for him at work and Rabbit defends him with his rap.
If you've forgotten, Eminem was seriously slammed for his homophobic lyrics. Eminiem seems to be trying to say that's part of his language. In other words, it's not that HE'S homophobic, it's just part of his speech. Which is complete and utter crap. Reality is, the culture he comes from is homophobic, and that's just the way it is. Ironically, in trying to pretend he recognizes his roots, Eminem rejected the ugly parts.
Please -- those moments in the film reminded me that this is a movie whose sole purpose is to perpetuate the myth and legend of Eminem. A black mark on an otherwise servicable film.
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on February 20, 2004
8 MILE: when it came out in theatres, you could tell it was going to be one of the biggest hip hop culture phenomenons. From the trailer, it looked like it would also be a chance for artist Eminem to show what else he has. The movie was not what it looked up to be, or at least what I hoped it would be. It should've been way better, being loosely based on Eminem's actual life. It was a big letdown. I do think they could've done a better job portraying their lives. They could've given the movie or the characters more purpose. Rabbit (Eminem) is the only round, or multi-dimensional character. Everyone else seemed to be flat, or stereotypes that either helped him get ahead, or held him back. The movie had more of a theme - a white man trying to earn respect as a rapper. Eminem did a great job acting, probably because the role was somewhat personal. The story had the potential to have a better plot. It could've been more of a real film than an excuse to make a lot of money. I thought that it could've done a lot better, especially because it's about Eminem (loosely). As an Eminem fan, I was impressed with the acting and the imagery, but the writing was off. The movie is pointless and you can basically the whole thing in the trailer. Not to mention that nothing happened at the end of the movie. He wins a battle, and walks away. That's it. That is an event that could've happened anywhere in the movie and not meant anything. They barely showed how he got respect, all you could hear was the cheering. He walks away, and you don't know anymore about him. You assume he must get some respect and his daily life must have some sort of drastic change must've happened. They dont show you. He walks away and they play the famous theme song. From the preview it looks like could be a movie that may have some OSCAR buzz or something. None. I am a big rap fan, but I'm also a big movie fan, so I have speak the truth-this is an excuse to gather up big names in hip-hop, throw in some music, and give a bunch of people lines. I think that a film about one of rap's biggest superstars, one of my favorites, who draws most of his lyrics from his life, would be more interesting and filled than this. There wasn't enough motivation for me to become engaged in the events, which basically lead to one another without any plot. They just eventually lead to him winning a battle with the skill he had all along. i was disappointed. But I must give credit to all of the actors, and the director, but the story needed more.
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on February 10, 2004
Curtis Hanson delivers a purely unintelligible, plot less, slice of rap drama that quite frankly has been done much better elsewhere. The entire film is a big set piece that leads up to the last minute and a half of Rabbit (Eminem) winning a rap competition. That much is good but the competition itself is given minimal screen time and instead we find Rabbit and his friends in a Detroit backdrop that looks like something from Bosnia with the trailer trash appeal to woo us all into feeling for these "kids" (Most of them grown men living with their mothers). Contrived yes, but it get worse when Rabbit's mom (Basinger) pops out of the blue with the line "We are being evicted" and with that the film is lost to stereotypical black men pulling guns, insulting people and picking fights.
Very few will take this film seriously enough and although Eminem merits a nod for this performance (yes he can act) the script is like something that popped out of a twelve year old Eminem fan's computer printer, and feels like it too. Oh wait a minute - this is a vehicle for Eminem fans. A quick slice of Hollywood cash making, filmed with token characters and a story won in a packet of cornflakes. Even though I like Eminem this one is a real stinker and a waste of time and money. Do yourself a favor - Buy a Eminem CD or even one of his music DVDs. This is complete and utter $$$$$$$$$$$$-making on a shoe-string concept and a plot that will boggle your mind (What is it with that girl of his? Get a brain dude!)
It's bad.
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on January 27, 2004
A troubled young adult from the wrong side of the tracks has prodigious skills in a hobby that is outside of mainstream America. A band of neighborhood hooligans terrorizes the young adult. These hooligans are tops in the neighborhood at the same hobby that the young adult is involved in. The young adult is disillusioned and about to throw in the towel. He is about to give up his dreams of big success and escaping the dead- end prognosis that his upbringing has rendered. A romance with a spicy young woman inspires the young adult to give it another chance. There is a big showdown with the hooligans and the young adult shows them up. The movie ends with the young adult's star rising.
Does this all sound familiar? I could be describing the plot of this movie or countless other movies (mostly b movies) from the 80's to present. It doesn't matter whether it is breakdancing, surfing, skating, karate, etc. The plot is always the same.
Sometimes I feel bad about being so critical of this movie and comparing Eminem's ascendency to a bad b movie. Parts of Eminem's life are inspirational (stress on PARTS of his life). Then I realize how boring this movie is and how much money he made off of it.
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on January 20, 2004
Eminem`s first experience as an actor is a surprising one, developing an interesting character in a good urban drama. Curtis Hanson is the man behind the camera here, and his past work in acclaimed movies like "Wonder Boys" or "L.A. Confidential" gave him enough knowledge and recognition to get his hands on this project.
The story isn`t too original, but is well told and acted. Eminem plays Rabbit, a youngster from a Detroit neighbourhood with a messed life who`s trying to find his role in the world. His main passion is hip hop, so he looks to find his future in music, getting away from a life with low perspectives and choices.
Hanson captures well Rabbit`s story and the atmosphere of the community he lives in, showing the conflicts he must face to achieve his goal. The realistic direction and the gritty, dark photography add a natural, credible tone to the movie, showing how`s life in those convulted suburbs. The plot is deep enough and never gets too melodramatic or politically correct, despite the somewhat preachy and predictable ending.
Not a masterpiece, but given that most films with or about musicians are generally weak, "8 Mile" stands above average and succeeds delivering a tension-filled and well-written story, with characters worth caring about. It`s also one of the few mainstream movies that focuses on how`s life within the hip hop (sub)cultures that continue developing nowadays.
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on January 17, 2004
This film was great.Eminem is one of the very few singers who can act if you compare him to Mariah Carey in "Glitter" and
Lance Bass and Joey Fatone in "On the Line".The film is a semi autobiographical film about himself however he plays a man named
Jimmy "Rabbit" Smith a young white kid from Detroit who lives in a trailer park with his alcoholic mom (Kim Basinger) and his little sister.Rabbit loves his little sister and is worried about her well being and writes his emotions into his rhymes.His friends qho include the host of one of the rap battles Future
played by Mekhi Phifer push him to rap in the battles however he always chokes up on stage.But the film is also about gang violence and all that stuff with Rabbit and his friends gettin' in fights with a group of rappers who call themselves Leadaz of tha Free World.But the freestyle rapping in this movie is awesome,the special features on this DVD are cool too they include the music video for "Superman".But buy this movie,now.
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on January 14, 2004
This movie is not different from Good Will Hunting & Finding Forrester. The main character is talented & yet, flawed at the same time. The neighbourhood is rough & he grows up faster than he should be. Innocence is lost & survival is the key. Like any other feel good movies, he's blessed with genuine friends who are selfless & supportive all along. They know that he's a diamond ready to be cut but before that, he needs to be made known that he's TRULY something. Eventually, he finds the truth & that he's courageous enough to take the next step into manhood, to be somebody. I don't need to say more about Eminem's acting capability. He's in his element & it's surprising to note his charisma on-screen. It's difficult to get our eyes off him. The supporting cast is amazing. Brittany Murphy is convincing as a white trash girl who would "sell" her body to get somewhere; Mekhi Phiffer (the Negro doctor in ER)& Kim Basinger are all wonderful. What made "8 Mile" even more compelling to watch is the slum neighbourhood in Detroit which the Director uses to his advantage. Even though the story is predictable, it's still a wonderful movie to watch. The rap scene is quite an eye-opener for someone who's new to the alternative culture aspect of United States. Highly recommended.
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