Worth A Look: 28.85%
Pretty Bad: 10%
Total Crap: 15.38%
9 reviews, 206 user ratings
by MP Bartley
It just seems a classic case of 'get-a-music-star-in-a-film-and-it-will-sell' thinking by a studio. Get Eminem, the angriest rap star imagineable and get him to star in a film, loosely based around his life, and out of mere curiousity value the sheep will flock to see it. The only difference give it a director of proven quality (Curtis Hanson) to give it a more professional sheen, or entice the critics. But guess what? It still stinks.Eminem is Jimmy White, or to call him by his rap name, Bunny Rabbit. He lives in a trailer park in Detroit with his white-trash mother (Kim Basinger), hangs about with fellow losers and wannabe rappers including Future (Mekhi Pfeiffer) who hosts local rap bouts between rival gangs. Jimmy tries to enter one, but crucially loses his nerve on the big night and is laughed offstage. Cue an uplifting tale of one man trying to get himself out of the gutter and improve his station in life, while suffering the lows of beatings from a local gang Free World (sound scary don't they?) and the attentions of local slut Alex (Brittany Murphy).
"We've heard this song before."
I'm not bothered by Eminem. His music to me is like countless others, some songs I like, some I don't. So there's no prejudice from me going into a movie about rappers. I hate classical music but that doesn't stop me enjoying 'Amadeus'. As long as there's invention, credible characters, or at the most basic of levels, a decent plot, I couldn't care less if the featured music is Hungarian folk music.
But '8 Mile' has none of these things. What it has is all the usual cliches associated with these tales of redemption, but none of the thrills that should go hand in hand with them.
An unstable parenting background that holds him back even though he's doing it for the innocents in his family that he's trying to protect from his fate (in this case his sister)?
Of course he's got that to contend with.
A troublesome ex mocking his attempts to better himself?
Yep, that too.
A comical bunch of friends that also hold him back, but provide backing throughout his endeavours?
Problems at his day job that mean he just might not make it to the final rap battle in time?
How did you guess?
That's not to say cliches can't be enjoyable. 'Rocky' also uses every trick in the book, but is no less enjoyable because of it. Unfortunately '8 Mile' is just criminally dull.
There's no effort put in, no life going through the veins of the film. Hanson lazily slops the by-the-numbers story onto the screen, hoping we'll be too distracted by the star power of Eminem to notice. But we're not. We notice gaping holes in the storyline (Jimmy's ex appears for 5 minutes to provide a supposed fake pregnancy sub-plot but then dissapears for the rest of the film). We notice the bad acting such as a horribly out of place Basinger (it takes more than unwashed hair to convince as trailer trash. Falling back on the alcoholism and abusive boyfriend trick doesn't convinve either).
Granted, Eminem can act. But he's only playing himself. Give me a part of a mid-twenties film critic, and I think I could give a good shot at it. And he's the only redeeming presence in the film. It's a solid performance, but early cries of Oscar seem a tad hysterical. But the less said about the truly awful Brittany Murphy the better. Trying to be alluring she's sluttish, trying to be feisty she's slutty, trying to be mysterious she's...well you can guess.
Part of the problem is that no-one is the least bit likeable. We've covered Basinger and Murphy, but the rest are bland and unremarkable. Eminem puts across Jimmy's hardship, but little else to hang to, while his friends come across as morons. It's an unlovely bunch of characters in an unlovely film from the harsh, steely look of the film to the profanity littered script. Now I don't mind swearing, I swear like a motherfudder, but it's only good when used with wit such as 'Goodfellas'. Here it's along the lines of "Now listen dog, I'm going to fuck your shit up if you don't get your motherfucking shit out of my shit".
Repeat for nearly two hours and you get an idea. William Goldsman we're not talking here.
And where's the incident? We've mentioned the dissapearing ex-girlfriend but there's plenty more. Jimmy paintballs a police car and burns a house down, but there's no comeback on his actions. He has to work late on the night of the rap battle, but there's no excitement as to him choosing between the two. His mother is threatened by eviction but a handy win at Bingo lands her with several thousand dollars to get herself out of trouble. So where's the motivation for Jimmy to become a rap star? His own pride? Probably, but it makes for an underwhelming finale. The rap bouts are funny and occassionally clever, but essentially there's nothing to root for other than one surly uninteresting character against a group of cliched, laughable gangsta rappers.Eminem's in it, but so what? It's not Vanilla Ice but neither is it an epiphany in acting. Curtis Hanson directs it, but so what? There's nothing to distinguish it from anyone else. It would love to think it's a tough, streetwise portrait of one man against the nodds but it's not. It's a string of tired old cliches thrown together hoping that Eminem will distract everyone from it. He doesn't and save for his 'posse' no-one should be interested either.
link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6297&reviewer=293
originally posted: 01/31/03 01:46:48