Movie Review by EDF
Starring: Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer, Eugene Byrd
Director: Curtis Hanson
Okay, let’s get a couple of things straight about this movie before normal reviewing services are resumed. This is not an Eminem semi-autobiographical movie even though the movie spans a week in the life of an up and coming rapper, Jimmy ‘Rabbit’ Smith. The script itself was written before Eminem was even approached for the part of Jimmy.
Through situations beyond his control, Jimmy has no choice but to move back in with his mother Stephanie (Kim Basinger) at her trailer park home. She is seeing someone who is using her but Jimmy is not as easily fooled. Jimmy pays more attention to his little sister, Lilly, than his own mother does. Trying to make a break from his dead end life, he enters a rap competition at a local club run by one of his friends, Future (Mekhi Phifer). Rappers do battle by rapping insults to a time limit at their opponent and the audience judge the contestants. Unfortunately, Jimmy’s nerves seems to have gotten the best of him and he throws up before he gets on stage and then refuses to rap when it’s his turn. Future, sensing what Jimmy is capable of, won’t give up on him and books him in on the following week’s competition.
In the meantime, Jimmy’s mother buys her son a run down car for his up-coming birthday and Jimmy promptly fixes the car and cruises around 8 Mile, the border between Detroit’s rich and poor, with his crew. By day, Jimmy works in a steel factory where the foreman constantly gives Jimmy grief as he sees him never amounting to anything. Jimmy also meets the new recruit there, the trashy Alex (Brittany Murphy) and they hook up.
While Jimmy and his crew are cruising the streets, they get in a bit of a hassle with the local gang who view themselves as the whole package, with the right clothes, cars and women. An incident puts Jimmy on their hit list but unlike most other Hollywood movies set in the hood, guns play a minor role here and Jimmy gets beaten up. Jimmy only feels the time is right to prove himself when he realises that he will be facing one of the gang members in the next rap competition.
Through Curtis Hanson’s careful direction and a bit of input from Eminem, 8 MILE hits the heart and soul as to what rap is all about. When executed properly, rap is a verbal art form and when Eminem lets loose, the audience already knows what he is capable of and you have a sense of watching a master at work. Follow his words and you end up laughing along to his funny and sometimes vicious rhymes. It would come as a shock to anyone watching 8 MILE that Hanson is not a fan of rap music, nevertheless 8 MILE has been directed with a lot of affection.