Friday, January 11, 2013

8 Mile (2002)

Seen: On our projector set-up, streamed from Miles' harddrive.

So a sort of unexpected thing about my boyfriend is that he loves Eminem. It's just the kind of thing I always forget about him until I'm reminded, like when he tells me I really need to see 8 Mile. Based in part on Eminem's experiences as a poor teen in Detroit trying to make it as a rapper, the film stars the controversial performer as Jimmy "Rabbit" Smith. After breaking up with his girlfriend he's forced to move back in with his gambling-addicted mother (Kim Basinger) and young sister, resulting in clashes with her abusive boyfriend (Michael Shannon). By day Jimmy works at a metal stamping factory, by night he tries to compete in rap battles to get more recognition, but stage fright gets the best of him. His friends believe in him and they all dream of a career in hip hop, but Jimmy is driven enough to align himself with a few untrustworthy characters, and hot-headed enough to constantly get into fights with a rival rap group.

Turns out this movie is pretty ok, definitely better than I'd expect. The story is so-so, mostly typical underdog-overcoming-his-limitations-type stuff punctuated with some great musical scenes and a mix of darkly dramatic and comically upbeat moments. Eminem isn't the most charismatic actor but he's got this very serious, intense look on his face at all times and it gives the character some sort of gravitas. Plus I admired his work ethic. He's backed by a strong supporting cast, like Basinger and Shannon's dysfuntions and Anthony Mackie's small but memorable role as rival rapper Papa Doc. I loved Jimmy's little buddy gang, which includes Mekhi Phifer as his Number One Friend and De'Angelo Wilson as the smart, political friend (you can tell right away because he has glasses). Brittany Murphy has a good turn as a potential love interest for Jimmy, but her character is super underdeveloped and it's actually kind of confusing and frustrating.

I make no claims regarding any knowledge of hip hop's inner workings, I'm just not well versed in the players or the scene or 1990s Detroit in general, so I can't really speak to how realistic this movie is. I dug the rap battles and the focus on this close-knit community, but I did not dig the homophobic language or the under-written women characters (though I can't say I'm surprised by either). Most of the performances are good and the music is excellent, and overall it's a worthwhile viewing I'd say.

3.5/5

Pair This Movie With: Ummm I don't know why but La Bamba (the Ritchie Valens movie) keeps popping into my head. Otherwise maybe another movie about rappers? I don't know too many.

1 comment:

  1. You know, I really enjoyed 8 Mile. It's nice to see someone review it! Lose Yourself is a great song in my opinion. Eminem definitely deserved the Oscar he won for it.

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