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Overall Rating
2.74

Awesome: 26%
Worth A Look: 6%
Average: 2%
Pretty Bad48%
Total Crap: 18%

4 reviews, 26 user ratings


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Get Rich or Die Tryin'
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by Peter Sobczynski

"a.k.a. 'Fiddyan's Rainbow'"
2 stars

When it was announced that Jim Sheridan, the acclaimed Irish director of such films as “In the Name of the Father” and “In America,” had been hired to direct a gangster-rap melodrama loosely based on the life of controversial rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, many people were perplexed as to why he would want to make a film about a culture and environment seemingly so alien to his own. I can understand why Paramount would want to hire someone of his stature instead of just another MTV hack–his presence would lend a certain prestige to what might have otherwise been seen as just another exploitation movie in much the same way that Curtis Hanson did when he signed on to direct the Eminem vehicle “8 Mile.” After seeing the resulting film, “Get Rich or Die Tryin,” I am still perplexed as to why Sheridan would have wanted to make it in the first place, unless he had a secret desire to one day direct a film that is little more than “Jailhouse Rock” with a higher body count.

Using a convoluted structure that doesn’t really add much to the proceedings, the film tells the story of Marcus (played by Marc John Jeffries as a juvenile and Jackson himself as an adult), a young man who grows up on the mean streets of New York City with a chip on his shoulder (thanks to the murder of his drug-dealer mother and the absence of his father) and a song in his heart. Although he practices at being a rapper in his spare time, he devotes most of his energies to being the best crack dealer in the neighborhood and eventually taken under the wing of local kingpin Levar (Bill Duke). Before long, Levar is betrayed by Majestic (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) an underling with dreams of grandeur and Marcus gets thrown in jail, where he is saved from a murder attempt by instant best friend Bama (Terrence Howard). With his life at a dead end, Marcus decides to reevaluate his life and begins writing killer rap lyrics about his experiences on the street.

When he is released, Marcus refuses Majestic’s offer to return to the business in order to pursue his musical dreams–a move that angers Majestic by itself and then completely enrages him when he discovers that he is being dissed in many of Marcus’s songs. Instead of calling the lawyers or cutting a devastating answer record, Majestic calls up the nearest hit man, who puts nine bullets into Marcus (including one in the mouth). Incredibly, Marcus survives the attack and, after the requisite scenes involving the tearful despair of his girlfriend (Joy Bryant), Marcus gets back to the mike and throws himself back into recording with a new fervor and energy. Everything culminates back in the old neighborhood where Marcus is going to perform a concert that Majestic will do anything to stop.

The notion of a music star trying to make the transition to movie star by appearing in a thinly veiled version of their own life story is not a new one–everyone from the Beatles to Bob Dylan to Mariah Carey have tried it with varying degrees of success. The best examples of the genre–such as the aforementioned “8 Mile” and the Prince vehicle “Purple Rain” worked because they transcended their cliched screenplays by remembering to include an authentic feel and mood–even if the stories were completely made up, they at least felt real enough while watching them. While a good portion of the material in “Get Rich or Die Tryin” is indeed inspired by the life of Jackson–who once worked as a drug dealer and who did survive an attack in which he was shot nine times, too much of it comes across as just another rehash of the same tired inner-city gangster cliches that we have seen done a hundred times before. Although the film theoretically wants to be a gritty portrait of the streets in order to depict on screen what Jackson does on his CD’s, all it winds up doing is glorifying thuggish violence again and again. Sure, the final scene has Marcus literally turning his back on the cycle of violence instead of getting swept up in it again; however, since such a thing wouldn’t exactly play well with the film’s target audience, the film allows someone else to get the violent and crowd-pleasing last licks instead.

A more pressing problem with the film is that it is essentially a star vehicle for a performer who simply isn’t up to the task. Although the notion of a rapper trying to act has inspired any number of bad jokes and worse films, several of them–Eminem, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur and Ice-T (at least up until he appeared as a giant mutant kangaroo in “Tank Girl”–have demonstrated both a volcanic screen presence and a willingness to step up to the plate by trying to act instead of simply coasting through their scenes with nothing but rock-star attitude. By comparison, whatever presence Jackson has on record and in his videos, on the other hand, does not translate to the big screen–he mumbles his dialogue without any sense of conviction and when he isn’t doing a specific action (such as rhyming or waving a gun), he looks incredibly uncomfortable and out of place. It is bad enough to put a neophyte like him against such dynamic performers as Howard, Bryant and Viola Davis but even when he is on the screen by himself, he fades into the background. The only time he really comes alive as a performer is when he does what he does best–spitting out his hyper-violent rhymes–but the only full-blown performance footage comes as a sidebar to the end credits. Frankly, Marc John Jeffries, the kid who plays Marcus as a youth, does a far more creditable job of suggesting the pain and anger that his character is going through in any one of his few scenes early on than Jackson does throughout the rest of the film.

“Get Rich or Die Tryin” isn’t a pop-star debacle on the scale of “Glitter” or “Cool as Ice”–for starters, it is much too serious and sober-minded to stumble into the camp hysterics of those all-time turkeys. It just isn’t particularly compelling or interesting and it doesn’t leave the audience feeling much of anything by the time it comes to a close. A good film along these lines would have left viewers feeling exhilarated and excited–either from the triumph of the hero over adversity or from the redemptive power of the music. Walking out of “Get Rich or Die Tryin,” all I felt was a general sense of disinterest and a slight tinge of regret that Dave Chappelle was no longer doing his Comedy Central sketch show–I suspect he could have had a field day with this nonsense

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13482&reviewer=389
originally posted: 11/09/05 15:59:32
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User Comments

6/11/09 leon that was a hell of a movie great story to tell the movie makes you feel like you know him 5 stars
5/09/08 Danica 50 Cent IS better then all of u SO SHUT UP 5 stars
10/18/07 Simon What are the critics talking about? This is a fantastic film better then 8 mile! outstandin 5 stars
9/14/07 Tracy 50 was great! Great movie I was suprised. 5 stars
11/14/06 Beau Liked this movie, it melt my heart. A good storyline.well done! 4 stars
8/18/06 Nix Better than 8 mile 4 stars
5/31/06 Bryan McAllister fairly good movie 3 stars
5/17/06 shady total shite it represents chav scum who should all be shot 1 stars
4/16/06 skippy it speaks for it self 5 stars
3/11/06 Josh Standlee In order to make music, you need more than a shitty beat! 1 stars
3/01/06 chris f do not waste time watching this shite 1 stars
3/01/06 Uk_shooter shite gangster wanna be movie do not watch!!!! 1 stars
2/06/06 k t 50 is hot hot hpt! 5 stars
1/20/06 nadia 50 cent mullen was amazin!! colin u know nothing u twat! 5 stars
12/16/05 justin gleason the movie is a 5 star movie because of 50 cent(ya its fifty cent,not fiddy cent)you must li 5 stars
11/27/05 djacosta To those who call the best movie ever: "have you ever been to the movies before?" 1 stars
11/22/05 Javier Joachin Is very interesting. 5 stars
11/21/05 Jamie Walker it was the best movie i have ever seen 5 stars
11/19/05 CourtManShan Best moviee ever 5 stars
11/18/05 Jabber 8 MILE, PART 2...50 Cent is untalented and can't spell. 1 stars
11/17/05 dreskeezy if your from the hood then u would understand this movie. 50 is back on top 5 stars
11/15/05 YOisMe same recycled dissappointments 1 stars
11/14/05 Curtis Jackson I thought that movie was very interesting 5 stars
11/12/05 Zigga 50 cent trys too hard 1 stars
11/12/05 chris trundle 50 gotta b doin somfin right his minted simple as that 4 stars
11/11/05 alnurs aa_ha 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  09-Nov-2005 (R)
  DVD: 28-Mar-2006

UK
  20-Jan-2006 (15)

Australia
  19-Jan-2006




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