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8 Mile /

Rated: R
Starring: Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer, Eugene Byrd
Directed by: Curtis Hanson
Produced by: Curtis Hanson, Brian Grazer, Jimmy Iovine
Written by: Scott Silver
Distributor: Universal Pictures

 

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Movie Image
Movie Image

     8 Mile is not a comforting film, but itís a good one. It shows us the most realistic portrait of life in the ghetto since last yearís Training Day; not that it is very accurate. While many would hate to think about Eminemís debut film, I took the chance of seeing it, and was shocked. It seemed impossible that such a disgrace to music could have feeling towards filmmaking, and against all odds, perform well. While Mr. Matherís had a huge crew behind him, he was excellent, and I was actually able to like the film as a whole. There have been previous attempts at film made by his fellow rappers Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, but they were wasted opportunities. Eminem falls into the same category as Ice Cube; he is just as good on film as he is at selling c.d.ís, if not better.

     The plot is just campy enough to feel gritty. It's effective and spunky.

     Jimmy Smith Jr. (Eminem), also called ďBunny Rabbit,Ē is a white man, in the middle of the Detroit ghetto. He strives for stardom, and wants to be a professional rapper, but his constant misfortunes in life are stopping him from doing so. In the beginning of the film, we see Jimmy rehearsing for an act in the middle of a tattered bathroom; motioning with hand-movements, and mouthing the words to a song. He exits the bathroom and then steps up to the microphone on a stage, in front of a crowd of homeless people at a shelter. He has a DJ to back him, and he is supposed to freestyle right into his competitors face (it is a competition between about 10 rappers). The track begins and he starts to say ďYo-YoĒ repetitively for about five seconds. After that, nothing comes out of his mouth. He is frozen, and says nothing, and after forty long seconds of being humiliated, he runs off the stage.

     Jimmy is the constant victim of these types of unlucky situations, though he tries to prevent them from happening. His girlfriend has left him, and he has given her his car. This has left him without money, and nothing to sell, so he must resort to living with his mom (Kim Bassinger) in the local trailer park. He has problems with her boyfriend, who is about his age, and lives with her. Her boyfriend constantly teases him about being fired from lots of jobs, including one at a local Pizza place. One of the main things dragging Jimmy down is his careless group of friends. Most of them are black, though the most careless one is white, and pretends to be of another race. They shoot themselves on accident, light vacant houses on fire, and get into fights on a regular basis. Jimmy is constantly scowling upon what they do, but never chooses to abandon in them.

     I went into some depth about Eminemís performance in the introductory paragraph, but now I would like to further concentrate on it, as well as the cast as a whole. The role of a trailer-trash, two-timing mother was an odd choice for Kim Bassinger, but she was excellent in executing it. Her emotionally needy character was well-written, and she provided great support to what was already there. Brittany Murphy was also terrific. She plays Jimmyís love interest, after he breaks up with his other girlfriend. Mekhi Phifer was good, but not great; though his role wasnít very well written. And once again, the leading man, Eminem, was surprisingly fabulous. And I am in shock because of it.

     Brain Grazer can make any normal flick a masterpiece. His inspirational work on A Beautiful Mind was what made it so good. The way he dealt with the many unique shots in Blue Crush was fabulous. His efforts on 8 Mile are no different. Without a good producer the numerous grim (but corny) shots of the ghetto would not be pleasurable to watch. With masterful skill he makes the depressing area lively, and this makes it all the more better. Most think that all a film relies on is the actors, but Grazer proves this wrong. Films like Federal Protection, Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, and The Transporter suffered because of this; but 8 Mile does not. I hope that Grazerís work continues to be as magical in future years.

     All I can say is: what a surprise. I walked into this film thinking that it would be as wretched as a Nazi prison camp. Similar to the recent Adam Sandlerís Eight Crazy Nights, 8 Mile classifies as a guilty pleasure. It has a great deal of truth to the material that it presents, all of the fiction seems quite realistic. Eminem, Brittany Murphy, and Kim Bassinger give ecstatic performances, and Mekhi Phifer dishes out a good one. Grazer produces with style, and Hanson directs with confidence. I canít say I walked out of the theatre with a newfound respect for rap music, but I am able to say one thing: 8 Mile is a great movie.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews

 


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