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
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.