Special Request: 8 Mile Review

Posted: September 26, 2010 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews
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I’ve never been a fan of rap music. While I respect the genre, it’s never been my cup of tea. Personally, I’ve always been a follower of Heavy Metal music. Hell,  I’m listening to Five Finger Death Punch as I write this. You may be wondering why I’m telling you all this. I just want to make it clear that my appreciation of 8 Mile is not influenced by my opinion of Eminem as a rapper.


8 Mile is set in poverty stricken Detroit in 1995 and  tells the story of Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith Jr, played by and based on Eminem. Rabbit is trying to get his music career started, but despite being very talented, is having trouble catching a break. During a rap battle at the beginning of the film, Rabbit chokes and storms off stage without saying anything. Later, it’s revealed that Rabbit has left his girlfriend, and has to move back into a trailer park with his mom Stephanie (Kim Basinger), his kid sister Lily (Chloe Greenfield), and his mom’s abusive boyfriend Greg (Michael Shannon). What follows is Rabbit trying to hold a job to help support his family, advance his music career with his friends and fellow rappers, and pursue a relationship with a girl named Alex (Brittany Murphy).


8 Mile may be about a rapper, but it isn’t really about rap. It’s about rap as much as Raging Bull is about boxing. 8 Mile is mostly a character study on Rabbit. Rabbit is a very interesting character and Eminem does a great job. Now, I realize Eminem is pretty much just playing himself, but that isn’t a bad thing. Rabbit is a very likeable character who just wants to make a good life for himself and his family. He’s an easy character to get behind. By the end of the film, you are very invested in Rabbit’s fate and you want to see him succeed.


The other characters here are also solid. Kim Basinger is great as Rabbit’s mother Stephanie. At times you’ll get so mad at her you just wanna slap her. But for the most part, you just feel sorry for her. Brittany Murphy plays Alex, the film’s love interest. Murphy is great in this role and really sells that Rabbit would go for this woman. Probably the best supporting characters in the film are the members of Rabbit’s crew. The group is made up of mostly unknown actors, but almost all of them are great. These characters aren’t as deep as Rabbit, but they’re interesting and likeable anyway. A huge highlight of the film was just watching these characters interact. Of Rabbit’s friends, my favourite was Future, played by Mekhi Phifer. The only character I have issues with is Cheddar Bob, played by Evan Jones. He provided a lot of comedic releif and while some of it was good, other bits seemed awkward and forced.


8 Mile is directed by Curtis Hanson (L.A Confidential). Hanson does a good job of capturing the setting and the world the film takes place in. The film feels very authentic. During a lot of scenes, you almost feel like a fly on the wall watching a conversation unfold.


The rap battles in this film are all well done. I know it’s weird for me to say that after clearly stating at the beginning that I don’t listen to rap, but I stand by it. What makes them good for me, is the subtle differences in each battle. I was really impressed how each rap battle felt different then the last. It helped keep things interesting.


Despite my praise, I do have some minor issues with the film. For one, I thought it had some pacing issues. The beginning kind of drags at points. Not to say it’s boring, but it there are times where I felt they could have tightened things up. I also think things came together a little too conveniently toward the end. However, these are minor gripes.


Bottom line, you don’t need to be a fan of Eminem to enjoy 8 Mile. While it does everything well to a degree, it’s the performances in this that really make it worth watching. Particularly Eminem, who if you don’t enjoy his music, you’ll still enjoy his acting in this.




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