Anthony's Film Review
8 Mile (2002)
Rapper Eminem proves himself to be a talented actor, not just a talented musician...
8 Mile is a drama film that features Marshall Mathers, the rapper known as Eminem, playing an aspiring rapper named Jimmy Smith, a.k.a. B-Rabbit. The details of Rabbit's life are presumably inspired by those of Eminem's real life. This movie is an opportunity for Eminem to showcase his talents as an actor, not just a rapper. In addition, it's a chance for the rest of us, especially those who find his music to be offensive, to better understand who Eminem is and the harsh life he lived before launching his music career.
Given that plenty of hip-hop music is hardcore and explicit because it all stems from the bleakness of ghetto life, this movie is about Rabbit living his life in Detroit, not just about his efforts to make it big in rap. He goes to work at an automobile plant, lives with his mother played by Kim Basinger, meets a pretty young woman played by Brittany Murphy, and hangs out with his friends, including one played by Mekhi Phifer. He does other things to pass the time, like driving a car as his friends shoot a paint gun at anything they see, after which Rabbit makes the daring move of shooting a police car with the paint gun. Then there is a moment where Rabbit decides to attack some rivals in the street, which ultimately ends with one friend accidentally shooting himself. As you can see, there's really no plot, because the movie is simply about a slice of life.
As for the rap scenes, I'd like to point out two interesting scenes in the first half of the movie. One is the movie's first scene, where Rabbit is in front of a bathroom mirror rehearsing his performance moments before getting on stage in a rap contest. But when he holds the microphone to his mouth while people in the audience are cheering him on or booing him, he storms off the stage without rapping a single word. I mention this because Rabbit is up against tough competition. He is a white guy trying to break into a music genre that is performed primarily by blacks. About 50 minutes into the movie, we get the second interesting scene, where Rabbit joins a crowd and shows off some creative insulting rhymes. Obviously, this is a sign of things to come regarding his musical talent.
After some time has passed, Rabbit gets his chance. He returns to the same rap contest stage where he had choked out before, and this time, he doesn't hold back. While the rival rapper dishes out some good insults, Rabbit's lyrics go even further and easily get the audience excited. And then he does it again. And again. At this point, you can feel the energy and emotion that Rabbit channels into his lyrics. All of this leads to the final song that starts before the credits roll: "Lose Yourself," which would become the first rap song to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Overall, this movie is pretty good. The music, although it occupies less screen time than everything else, is entertaining. As for the drama, all of the principal and supporting cast members deliver solid performances. I think it was wise for the filmmakers to make a film that features Eminem and gives him a chance to demonstrate his acting abilities, because he definitely has a memorable on-screen presence. Hence, I give 8 out of 10 stars to 8 Mile.
For more information about 8 Mile, visit the Internet Movie Database.