Directed by Curtis Hanson ("LA Confidential", "Wonder Boys").
Written by Scott Silver.
Starring Eminem, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer and Kim Basinger.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 11/10/02
I was hanging out in the theater on Friday
afternoon waiting for my friends Steak and Ted to show up, and I was
sitting on a bench near the ticket booth people-watching. Since
nothing else was showing at 1 PM at this theater, I was curious to
see what kind of people would be showing up to see Eminem’s movie
debut. My guess? Hip-hoppers, 17-26 years old, and lots of them.
Man, was I wrong.
Now, don’t get it twisted, there were a few
guys in attendance that had that hip-hop look. However, the number
of older white men that came out was astounding. Couples that
looked like they were in their 30s, a few girls that had a hippie
look about them, an older black twosome. I was thinking, “Are you
guys here to see the movie about the rise of a white rapper in
Detroit?” They WERE! And, I think a lot of them left the theater
the way I did—pretty impressed.
You know about the plot of the film; if you
haven’t seen any ads for this film (doubtful, especially if you use
the Internet), it is basically a fictional retelling of Eminem’s
rise in Detroit’s rap scene, filmed on gritty, run-down Detroit
locations and set in 1995. So, I am hesitant to call this a stretch
for the rap star, but he is called on to play out most of his scenes
in this film without rapping for a crowd, so this is new ground for
him. Starring as B-Rabbit, he is very good in most stretches, and
he is wisely put in situations that surround him with quality
supporting actors. Kim Basinger is great as Rabbit’s mom, Mekhi
Phifer is solid as Rabbit’s best friend Future, and Brittany Murphy
(“Don’t Say a Word”) is pure trik as Rabbit’s love interest.
Honestly, I can’t really figure out what it is about Murphy’s look
that is so good, because she looks totally cracked out in all of her
scenes in this movie. But, it works, even though she comes into the
picture and her scenes too mysteriously for a drama based in
reality. Seriously, it is like she walks everywhere, always shows
up at the right time, and falls for him after one party.
My guess as to why the performances in “8
Mile” are so good (and why so many different types of people showed
up to the film) is probably the direction of Curtis Hanson, who also
did “LA Confidential” and “Wonder Boys” in the last five years.
With his direction of Basinger in her Oscar-winning performance for
“LA Confidential” and her role in “8 Mile”, he has actually made me
forget that she was once this hot Hollywood starlet that showed up
in films like “9 ½ Weeks” by playing her against type, and it
works. One can tell that Hanson and writer Scott Silver are smart
about their shortcomings by letting up the reins for scenes
involving Rabbit and his freestyling with other rappers; those
scenes are obviously the crafting of Eminem and other professionals
as they wax on things like rap skills, sexual shortcomings and big
dough. But, for these scenes and many others—like a great scene
involving Rabbit and Future rapping to Lynyrd Skynrd’s “Sweet Home
Alabama”—it feels like it might be scripted, but the cool thing is
just watching these two guys have fun with the beat.
The film was also made 100 times better
because of the dismal previews shown in front of the film. Has
there been a trilogy in movie history that has gone from
unbelievably good to unbelievably bad like the “Friday” series? The
first one is a classic. The second one,
“Next Friday”, had some
moments, but was definitely a Matinee. The preview for “Friday
After Next” is so bad that no one in the audience laughed once
during the 60-second preview. Ice Cube has really put together some
good work over the last few years, but this one looks atrocious.
Rob Schneider’s “The Hot Chick”? No way. That holiday cartoon
movie starring the voices of Adam Sandler? Whoa, that looked bad.
The extended “Daredevil” preview—showcasing its impressive roster of
talent—just didn’t look very interesting, and it looked a damn lot
like “X-Men” for some reason.
“8 Mile” has some flaws—not enough of the
rap battles that make up the front and back of the film’s 120-minute
running time at the in-film club The Shelter, and Rabbit’s posse,
which just felt made up with the dumb guy, the big guy, and the
knowledge guy. But, it does have a great ending and some great rap
songs on the soundtrack...and, whether you like Eminem or not, he is
very watchable. There is something about Eminem’s eyes that make
you sense there is always something going on in his head, which
hasn’t always been the case for some of the young stars working in
films these days.
Rating: $9.00 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard