Jimmy Smith, Jr. (Eminem) is struggling to get out of his bleak existence. After having left his girlfriend, he is back home living with his mom and baby sister in a depressed trailer park - a trailer park that is situated in the notorious 8 Mile section of Detroit.
8 Mile is littered with glass, trash, and abandoned buildings. The despair of the area mirrors the despair of the people who live there, but can never find the means to leave it.
Jimmy believes that he has a way out. He has some serious rhyming skills and under the name B.Rabbit, plans to lay some tracks for a demo. But before he can do that, he has to deal with his stage fright and prove himself by beating his rivals in the underground rap contests. A feat that seems impossible with n abusive mother, a groupie who plays his feelings and an oppressive boss and to top it all of, he is white and everyone else in the rap world around him is black. Not only does he have to beat the top rappers, he has to earn their respect and that of the local black populace.
Can Eminem act? I can't really say. 80% of the time he was cussing someone out or kicking their ass and that doesn't require much skill. The other 20% was impressive, but it reminded me of Prince in Purple Rain in that he was in his element so it was probably hard to screw that up. I imagine we'll get the real answer to the question when he is required to go outside of his comfort zone.
Now that that's out of the way let get down to business. 8 Milewasn't half bad. It wasn't half good either. It suffered from being a story that we've seen a thousand times before - "Young man with a special talent desperately wants to escape his dreary surroundings and abusive parent. Having been hurt before, he finds it hard to trust anyone. Can this new girl be the one? And can he make it big? " The only difference is the special talent is rapping and he has to deal with prejudices on top of everything else.
I'm hearing all of this talk about Oscar nominations, but I'm not feeling it except for Kim Basinger in her supporting role as his mother. Eminem was good, but not Oscar worthy good. It might be that I missed all of his greatness due to the HORRIBLE sound editing. Half the time I couldn't hear one word being said over the blaring music. I missed most of the rapping because it was drowned out by the other music and dialogue in the scene. Or it could have been that I was so consumed with how much the movie dragged that I was distracted and missed out.
For his first outing, Em held his own. Curtis Hanson's direction and capturing of the bleakness of everyone's day to day survival was superb. As I mentioned before, Basinger was awesome. Mekhi Phifer also held his own, but it seemed to me that his part wasn't fleshed out very much to the point where he almost had nothing to do.
If you've seen Purple Rain, American Anthem, Rocky, Saturday Night Fever and to an extent Coyote Ugly and Glitter, you've seen 8 Mile.
About 3 Miles too long.
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Copyright Kamal "The Diva" Larsuel-Ulbricht, 2002
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