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movie review 8 Mile
Rated R
Runtime: 1hr 58min
Starring: Eminem, Kim Basinger

MFG Rating: 3/5

You don't need us to tell you this is Eminem's theatrical debut, you know that already. You don't need us to tell you that if you love Eminem, you'll probably like this movie. You already knew that too. You also shouldn't need us to tell you that if you hate Eminem, you don't want see this. He's in it, you see.

So with those qualifiers aside, we'll proceed as if the skinny rapping white guy was just a normal actor and we have no idea what he does for a living outside of his performance in this movie. A performance which, by the way, was actually pretty good. For a world famous hip-hop artist in his first ever feature film, that is. Get it?

Eminem plays B. Rabbit, a young and hard-done-by Detroit steel press worker who dreams of making it in the big time world of hip-hop. To slow him down, fate throws him some curve balls in several shapes and sizes. His trailer park mom (Basinger) is shacked up with a loser, and Rabbit fears for his baby sister (the only character in the movie that really gets an emotional reaction from him). His friend wants to hook him up to record a demo, but Rabbit's crew doesn't trust the guy. His girl friend lies to him. He has a bout of stage fright. Will it return? He's white, as the other rappers like to remind him. Had enough? We'll stop there, but the hits keep coming. The question is, can Rabbit hit back?

Rabbit doesn't smile a lot. Director Curtis Hanson has created a section of Detroit that is grimy, dark, dismal, and screams "Dead End". A gray blanket of desperation is suffocating these people, and Rabbit knows that if he doesn't break out, he's going to be smothered by it too. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime... The tension and gravity of the situation is well developed, and you feel it through the whole movie.

While the overall pace of the movie is a bit slow, the actual rap battles held in "Shelter" convey an intensity and immediacy that you can't help but get caught up in. I'm not a big fan of Hip-Hop, but this guy playing Rabbit seems to be able to sling some pretty clever and catchy rhymes. He might even have a potential career there. I was impressed, and really enjoyed not only the big rap battles, but also the casual ones that appear to be part of their everyday lives. Britney Murphy is a nice bonus here, playing a love-interest and maybe a muse of sorts. Either way, she has a black bra and we get to see it.

The movie does a good job of bringing you into Rabbit's world for 118 minutes. The clubs are packed and hyped, the tensions are high, the stakes are higher, and the rewards aren't riches, but survival. It's a fable you've heard before, painted up nicely in the world of Hip-Hop and executed with style. Eminem delivers a good solid performance, and obviously shines in his scenes on the mic. You leave the theater kind of nodding your head and saying "Not bad!" in a pleasantly surprised tone. That's worth three stars. And I do believe we'll be seeing more of him on the silver screen.

- Rob

Vital Stats

Gun Play
A few guns, some play, and one really bad shot.

Blood & Gore
A bit of blood, from the really bad shot.

Car Chases
One really short chase.

Britney Murphy gives a glimpse of the goods.

Most of the chuckles are found in the rhymes.