8 Mile (DVD, 2003, Full Frame; Censored Bonus Materials)

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"Lose yourself in the music..."

Nov 11, 2002
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Eminem proves he can act, Curtis Hanson's direction is superb.

Cons:Plot is a Rocky clone, abundance of rap music may turn some off.

The Bottom Line: Read the review.


Upon exiting the theater after seeing 8 Mile, I found myself with the urge to bust out into song. I mean literally bust out into rap music. And in fact I did. I headed back into the theater and joined in an impromptu rendition of the movie's theme song "Lose Yourself" with a small crowd that had stayed for the closing credits.

That's the feel of 8 Mile. When the movie ends, one feels both elated and emotionally drained. That's the effect the movie has on a viewer and so actually reviewing this baby is hard work. So what I will do is give you the reader the basic background on the film and then list my general observations about it.

The film stars Eminem in a semi autobiographical role as Jimmy Smith Jr. AKA Rabbit. Jimmy lives in a run-down trailer park on 8 Mile road, the area that separates the rich suburbs of Detroit from the poverty stricken inner city. As the film begins, our hero finds himself moving in back in with his mother, her lazy jerk boyfriend and little sister (who he cares about very deeply) after discovering that his girlfriend was impregnated by someone else.

At the same time, Jimmy is working at a local stamping factory that presses parts for cars and in the evening he hangs out with his mostly black buddies and engages in "rap battles" (Rapping duels in which one tries to decimate their opponent with lyrics). Jimmy hopes to one day use his skills to break out of the tough working-class environment he is currently trapped in.

Now for those observations:

1: The way the film is shot is quite effective for the environment it is trying to portray. The grittiness and destitution of the inner city is shown through the depiction of abandoned buildings, run-down factories and the working class jobs at which Jimmy and his friends earn their bread.

2: Eminem can actually act. Whether or not he is a gifted thespian is too soon to tell and I don't know how wide a range of roles he can play. He is perfect for this one as he does a good job of getting into the character of Jimmy and making you feel him, making you care about him, keeping this film from turning into The Eminem Movie.

3: The other great performance in this film is by Mekhi Phifer as his mentor of sorts. Phifer's character is in one sense a grizzled vet of the rap battle game, yet he is also a character who is looking for the same escape that Jimmy is.

4: Sadly Brittany Murphy is not quite up to par as Alex, Jimmy's love interest. While her performance is not exactly wooden, she never really brings the character to life. Kim Basinger fares slightly better as his drinking mother. Her role is somewhat difficult as at first it seems that she is somewhat lazy and unwilling to think realistically. However, it soon becomes apparent that there is more going on in her head than we know. Unfortunately, that part is never really explored.

5: If you go into this movie expecting to hear a lot of Eminem music, you will be disappointed. There are only a few moments of it and the movie's big hit "Lose Yourself" only gets played over the closing credits (as my movie-reviewing colleague Kristina already noted). There is a lot of music from Tupac, Biggie, Wu Tang and references to rappers such as Rakim.

6: The ending is done just right. It doesn't go for a bleak downbeat ending, yet it doesn't go for the fairy tale one either. I think it is safe to say that it ends the way it most likely would in real life, not in Purple Rain (which this movie does mimic at times, although 8 Mile is a better movie).

7: Curtis Hanson is one of the most gifted directors working in Hollywood now and 8 Mile proves it. This was already proven by LA Confidential and Wonder Boys and even by his early misfires (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle). 8 Mile drives the point home.

Overall, what makes 8 Mile work is that it features a protagonist who is struggling to achieve a goal that all of us share: that of improving one's existence. It is for that reason that this movie ranks as a film that even people who don't particularly care for Eminem would like.


Recommend this product? Yes


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