8 Mile

Buy this at Amazon

The plot in a nutshell
A young rapper, trapped in poverty and tired of the world around him, uses his talents to try to break free.  He meets with the usual resistance, but manages to find a way to triumph in the end.

This is Eminem's first foray into the world of film, and was much hyped at the time it came out last year.  The film was shot predominately on location in Detroit, his home, but is not autobiographical.  It does use some of his experiences as an early rapper as it's basis, but this isn't the Eminem story - thankfully.

8 Mile
8 Mile
Buy This Original Poster At

Relatively Spoiler Free Thoughts
For all the well publicized issues that Mather's mom may have had, I suspect one not mentioned was making him watch Urban Cowboy way too many times.  In this film we have a tremendously standard story - a young artist is trapped in a world that doesn't understand him, with lots of poverty, pain and sorrow around him.  He struggles with his/her art form, trying to hit it big, but everything is against him, particularly the local top dog, or dawg as the case may be.  Struggling against odds, and usually against their own inner demons, they prevail.

Films like Rocky, Urban Cowboy, Flashdance, and others all follow this story line.  8 Mile does nothing new or different in terms of story line, and there's certainly no surprises.  Every plot twist or turn along this graphitti covered trail is bright orange - there's nothing coming you won't see a mile ahead.  The thing this movie has that others don't is rap, using our current pop culture to tell a time old tale.

That doesn't mean it's a bad film, however.  Saving it from mediocrity is some fine acting all around, along with great cinematography.  They capture a realistic portrayal of inner city life, without compromises, and without turning to stereotypes or cartoon versions.  The people here are poor, the cars break down, and alcohol and drugs a common escape.  Still, they know they want more, something better, but can't find the way out.

I'm not a fan of Mathers, since the majority of his music is what rap does best - anger.  While the music form manages to express that emotion extremely well, it's a one trick pony.  Eminem's acting covers that ground extensively in this movie, and he does it as well on film as he does on stage.

He also manages a few other emotions, and while this movie doesn't prove that his acting skills have legs, it does show he has potential.  Here, he does a fine job, and manages to carry the film.  The other actors in the movie are all almost unknowns.  You may recognize some - they've done their share of TV and bit parts - but none of the names are familiar.  That is a big plus in a film like this, where character development and the ability to identify with the people is so crucial.  They do a wonderful job, especially his group of friends.  The bonds are obvious, as is the pain as the world pulls at them.

This isn't an Academy Award movie, and it doesn't change my overall opinion of Mathers personality.  I made the mistake of watching the included Superman video after the film and was again reminded of his superhuman level of arrogance and overt misogyny.   Still, personality aside, he gives a solid performance with some other fine actors, with a realistic back drop and great camera work.

Rating - Rent It
Those who have an attitude about inner city life or rap music itself may not be able to put that aside long enough to truly enjoy this film, but most other people should at least find it entertaining.  Like I said, it's not great cinema, but it takes a tired plot and adds some new blood.

Spoiler Laden Thoughts
There's really no need for spoiler info - there's nothing surprising in plot or story.  This isn't a ground breaking film, nor is the plot particularly convoluted.  Still, it's worth watching, if for nothing more than the big rap battle at the end.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour