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A Chick's Perspective on Eminem and 8 Mile

Nov 9, 2002 (Updated Nov 9, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Mekhi Phifer's and Chloe Greenfield's performances.

Cons:Pacing. Editing. Some failures in character development.

The Bottom Line: It's not the "Oscar" contender that everyone has been buzzing about however, it's a decent film.


Preamble
Unless you've been comatose for the past two months then undoubtedly, you've been bombarded with media messages about Eminem's movie debut, 8 Mile.

I like Eminem (much to the frustration of some of my friends) and I was very interested to see if he could pull off the jump to the big screen.

For Those Who Don't Want Any Spoilers
I was disappointed. It wasn't "bad" but it certainly did not live up to my expectations. The actors are mostly fine but the pacing and character development sucked. This is good for a matinee or for a video rental.

The Story
Rabbit aka Jimmy Smith Jr. (Eminem) is a white rapper from the wrong side of the tracks. Living among predominantly, the black population, he struggles to gain credibility in the world of rap. By day, he works at a stamping factory and by night, he hangs with his friends including mentor Future (Mekhi Phifer). While Future prods Jimmy into battle rap competition, he has another "friend" who claims to have connections into the record business. Jimmy struggles with facing his fears in battle rapping and relying too much on this other friend's promise of coming through for him.

Meanwhile, Rabbit's homelife isn't The Cleaver household. Mom Stephanie's (Kim Basinger) entire self esteem is tied into yet another male while little sister Lily tries to quietly fade into the background of their trailer park.

At work one day, Rabbit has the pleasure of first seeing Alex (Brittany Murphy). She walks and talks like a woman who is confident and she has the body of a supermodel. After a couple of social interactions, Alex and Rabbit hook up.

And that's where every thing starts to unravel for Rabbit.

Does Rabbit ever overcome his fear of battle rapping?
Does his buddy come through with those contacts?
Do Alex and Rabbit ride off into the sunset?

All of these questions, and more, can be answered upon the viewing of the movie.

Why It Got Only Three Stars
I'll be up front and tell you that I believed the hype. I was looking forward to a stunning movie and based upon that, I'm sure that my opinion is slightly biased.

Eminem was fine in his role as the struggling white-boy rapper. His best moments were when he jumped in as caretaker for his little sister Lily and the times that we got to see him battle rap. What really disappointed me is that Eminem's character was so underdeveloped. Surely a guy in his shoes has more anger then he displayed throughout the movie. Maybe they decided not to take him in that direction based upon his MTV persona...

In the beginning, I was really digging Kim Basinger. I think she has a real talent for playing trailer trash :). But then somewhere towards the middle of the film, she (as my husband called it), pulled a Kevin Costner on us in the accent department.

I was very disappointed by Brittany Murphy's character and its development. She seemed to come out of nowhere and only served as an instigator for certain plot points. Forgiveness from others came awfully quickly in my opinion (don't want to ruin the who or why for you).

The two stand out actors were Mekhi Phifer and Chloe Greenfield. Mekhi gave a strong performance to a character that could have just been hanging back in the shadows. He was part mentor, part struggling to deal with his own rapper past guy, and a man who was incredibly street smart. He saw in Rabbit what many did not although the nice thing is that his enthusiasm for Eminem's character did not fall into the cheesy, hero-worshipping arena.

Chloe Greenfield was a perfect choice for the little girl who struggled to keep sane in a very violent world. Speaking from personal experience, Lily was molded into a very believable character and her show of raw emotion was some of the best scenes of the movie.

Overall I blame the combination of director Curtis Hanson and writer Scott Silver for this movie not living up to my expectations. They had a great cast, a wonderful premise and still, they didn't deliver the five star movie that I had hoped it would be.

The one nice kudos I will give to Mr. Hanson and Mr. Silver is that the movie ended on a good note, not necessarily a happy ending though. I liked that.

Appropriateness For Those Under 18
Parents, kids are going to want to see this because of Eminem. In fact, when I was in the theater, many teenagers were thrown out (those under 17) by movie management.

It is rated R for strong language, sexuality, some violence and drug use. Personally, I don't think that it's any more racier than watching some of the videos on MTV. I think you should be comfortable with attending with kids who are 14 and up.

P.S. For those of you who really like Eminem's song, Lose Yourself...he does not perform this in the movie. There are a couple of times you hear the basic melody throughout the movie but it's not until credits roll, that you get to hear all of it.


Recommend this product? Yes

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