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8 Mile (R)
Universal
Official Site
Director: Curtis Hanson
Producers: Brian Grazer, Curtis Hanson, Jimmy Iovine
Written by: Scott Silver
Cast: Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer, Evan Jones

Rating: out of 5


Yo. Welcome to decrepit Detroit, 1995. Enter Jimmy Smith, Jr. (Eminem) and his posse, including MC Future (Phifer) and Cheddar Bob (Jones), among others. These guys like to rap. Freestyle. And, as Jimmy says, they’re all “broke as shit and living at home with our moms.” Jimmy’s mom (Basinger) is the only one we meet, and she’s quite a handful. And of course there’s got to be a girl (Murphy) to enable a gratuitous sex scene or two.

8 Mile Road divides ghetto urban from trashy suburban Detroit, and blacks from whites (though the movie doesn’t play the race card too too much). It’s all about boundaries, really, but doesn’t have anything terribly unique to say about them. The film has its share of violence and profane language, naturally. But you get used to it. I guess it wouldn’t be very realistic for "fuck" not to be in every other sentence.

Despite a somewhat formulaic plot, 8 Mile is a raw and entertaining look inside hip-hop. Much more so than the recent romantic blah-medy set to a hip-hop backdrop, Brown Sugar. But can it contend with old schoolers like Boyz N The Hood? Maybe not.

In Eminem’s film debut, he basically plays himself, a proud, pissed-off, 20-something white trash rapper. Only he’s a brunette in the movie. Still, he does get props (like my hip-hop jargon?) for his on-screen charisma. We all love to hate Eminem and watching this performance, I hated to love him. But I did (or at least liked him). As he is an egostistical, vulgar, overly controversial, somewhat annoying public figure, this is quite an accomplishment.

Director Hanson (Wonder Boys), meets up with Kim Basinger again, after both won Academy Awards for L.A .Confidential. The actress does surprisingly well in the role as Jimmy’s poverty-stricken, domestic-violence-victimized mother. Phifer (Clockers, O) is also a pleasure, bringing a genuine, sometimes humorous feeling to the film. Brittany Murphy (Clueless, Riding In Cars With Boys) doesn’t add much, but it’s more the script’s fault that the actress’s. Basically she falls for Eminem, cheats on him, and who really cares? Not the audience and seemingly not the characters either. Other than that, Scott Silver’s script is darn good. The movie was a lot funnier than I expected, laugh out loud funny even.

The chart-topping soundtrack by—who else, Eminem—is cool too. He may be a jerk, but the boy can write some tunes. 

Certainly not deserving of the Oscar buzz it’s gotten, 8 Mile is worth a matinee ticket. Word.

—Michelle Fajkus

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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