Review No. 571
I enjoyed this disappointment. Is that an oxymoron?
Director — Curtis Hanson
Producers — Mr. Hanson, Brian Grazer, Jimmy Iovine
Screenplay — Scott Silver
Eminem — James (Jimmy) “B-Rabbit” Smith, Jr.
Kim Basinger — Stephanie
Brittany Murphy — Alex Latorno
Mekhi Phifer — David “Future” Porter
Taryn Manning — Janeane
Distributor — Universal Pictures
Release Date — November 8, 2002
Language — English
Country — USA
Running Time — 1 hour, 50 minutes
MPAA Rating — R
MPAA Description — strong language, sexuality, some violence and drug use
8 MILE WAS WATCHED ON AUGUST 13, 2013.
Eminem wasn’t killed off by the disgraced Y2k music plague. But he’s not a musician, either–he’s a lyrical genius. I’m not going to try to deny that he could give a rags to riches story to nine third-world countries–and still manage to keep his own–if he had a dollar for every profane, violent, homophobic, anarchic, misogynous, etc., etc., etc. lyric. Though even as someone who doesn’t enjoy rap music much, trying to choose a favorite song of Eminem’s is as hard as doing the same for the Beatles. He’s a brilliant writer and a brilliant speaker. He can rap his way through anything, even a movie. And a movie became inevitable after The Marshall Mathers Show, his fourth album, was met with massive acclaim. 8 Mile is what you’d call a star vehicle. I’m not calling it a limousine, for those unfamiliar with the term, but if it were a limousine, it’s sad to think that the person driving (and just about anyone sitting in front of Eminem) just wants to “git-r-done.”
I have to smile at the 2002 release. Save for the story, everything about it seems like a 25th anniversary packaging of “the Saturday Night Fever effect.” Rest assured, this will become a universally respected “classic,” as well, and it’s not surprising that it’s almost halfway there already. I don’t want to imply that it isn’t a good movie. 8 Mile is entertaining, but it just doesn’t deserve such a dubbing. Yes, the movie achieved quite a bit: the least of its success may have been becoming the highest-grossing R-rated movie of 2002, and ninth highest-grossing opening weekend of that year. Marketing-wise, this is the standard by which its followers should be judged. The question is, does it really offer enough in style or substance to warrant any followers? The soundtrack won several awards, even an Oscar, but I struggle to find anything else handed its way.
Eminem delivers dynamically here. Of course it’s a compliment, just not such a dynamic one. He’s playing himself in a way so literal, he’s almost cheating. Virtually nothing makes this less than autobiographical than “B-Rabbit,” his character’s nickname. This is the story of a young man who doesn’t feel he has a life until he discovers rap music. ”B-Rabbit” doesn’t feel passionate for rap until he’s gone to a rap battle and performed his heart out. It’s a very Rocky-esque moment–cheesy, but touching in a way. This is the progression of the very movie itself, incidentally. While it feels a bit cheesy at times due to dumbed-down dialogue, scenes can get very emotional, thanks to just one actress: Kim Basinger, who plays Eminem’s mother. It’s no accident that a woman with the first name Kim is in this role, but frankly, this is as great a performance on her part as the Oscar-winner that was her L.A. Confidential.
8 Mile is a movie I’ll recommend, or at least guarantee some enjoyment of. It’s one of few movies of that caliber, I might add, that I wanted to stay through the credits with. That was because “Lose Yourself” was playing. Back to the Saturday Night Fever nod, it’s like turning the TV off while John Travolta walks along to “Stayin’ Alive”. I “lost myself” in the credits, and occasionally for what was beforehand. Just not enough.
POSTSCRIPT: The headline I wrote was supposed to be read in Eminem’s voice. Try it.