8 Mile

By Mark Ramsey | 2002/11/10

This Eminem’s got something, and whatever it is it will take years of hard time to rehabilitate. Not since the Mona Lisa has anyone achieved this level of fame without even cracking a smile. This man is dour, yo!

If only Entertainment Tonight’s volcanically over-modulated Mary Hart could stir a little Eminem into that intravenous caffeine cocktail she evidently ingests every weekday – she may not stop bouncing off walls, but at least she’ll do it in 4/4 time.

8 Mile plumbs the race and class divide in a misbegotten corner of Detroit. I doubt this movie will do much for the town’s tourism industry, although the sight of cars rolling off assembly lines never drew much of an audience anyway. In some towns if you break it you buy it. In Detroit, it seems, if you buy it you board it up.

8mile_tireday.jpgEminem plays a guy named “Rabbit,” and he doesn’t get any respect. Maybe going by the name “Rabbit” isn’t the route to respect, yo. It’s just a thought. Em needs those props and enough Benjamins to scrounge some studio time and set his lyrics to rhyme.

He works at a metal stamping plant where his job is to move things from one pile to another and keep an eye on the clock to make sure nobody steals it. “This isn’t the story of Eminem’s beginnings per se,” notes director Curtis Hanson. “But it’s the flava of his beginnings. It’s like a P. Diddy song that samples his beginnings.”

There’s a great scene where Em and Mekhi Phifer ad-lib a rap that sums up the misery and comedy of their lives – all to the tune of Sweet Home Alabama. I loved it!

Rhyming is what it’s all about in this squalid neighborhood. Mother Goose would be one dope be-yatch with these dogs. That’s why Eminem wants to win the local rap “battle.” He who can hurl the cleverest insults in rhyme takes home the props. Picture Curb Your Enthusiasm with a beat. Consequently, the gladiator hero of Detroit is the guy with the illin’-est rhyme (Note: This marks the first time “consequently” and “illin’-est” have been used together in a sentence).

8mile_sidewayshead.jpgThe “battle” is like an amateur talent contest. And Eminem is the Kelly Clarkson of 8 Mile. This movie ain’t Rocky, but it sure is Rappy. And the fine hoochies do flock to the playa’s that rhyme, G!

Kim Basinger is Eminem’s good-for-nothing mom. She looks as unglamorous as possible for a former fashion model and Bond girl who, until she got acquainted with Father Time, had never known an unglamorous day in her life.

Problem is, Kim’s being evicted from her trailer. How do you get evicted from a trailer? Why not just up and drive it off under cover of night?

What is rising hottie Brittany Murphy doing in this part of town, anyway? Is she the last survivor of a crash-landed plane of beautiful people marooned in the dregs of Detroit? And what’s that strange movement she’s making? Either that body tremor signals the onset of Parkinson’s disease or Brittany’s trying to dance! Is there a quake, Brittany? Quick, stand under a hard object – which would include any guy she seems to come into contact with.

Brittany gives it up to Em right there at the stamping plant. It’s an environment that even in the most romantic terms can only be described as “ice-cold on my ass.”

So I’m watching MTV’s Total Request Live and there’s Eminem guesting along with host Carson Daly. Evidently, the heat to conform is on, because Carson’s got a ridiculous Eminem-style wool cap on, pulled down to the brow. That’s wack, yo! How old are you, dog, like 35? Shouldn’t you be in a cardigan smoking a pipe on your Barcalounger right about now?

Hey, if Rappers can have battles, why not film critics? It so happens my rhyme is written and ready. Hey yo, trip:

You can wail

You can flail

Ebert’s tush can tip the scale

Those who can’t do, teach

No tale

You can wish for Pauline Kael

I’m the Terminator

The movie-rater

I tap truth

Like Roger at the refrigerator

So meditate

Be careful what you ate

Roeper ain’t no Manson

and I ain’t Sharon Tate

I say No

Ben and J. Lo

Waxing that ass, oh

She don’t even know

Which one’s Matt, which is Ben, yo!

Variety is wack

Ken Turan’s a hack

All your flack

Your ack-ack-ack

Off my back, daddy mack

You snobs, you hob-nobs

You pointy-headed scum-sucking pollywogs

You cry, you pout

No clue what it’s about

while I sing like Irene Cara

and Christina Aguilera

Take your hateful, haughty prose

your be-yatches and your hoe’s

Give a grade to all the flicks

‘Cause be straight:

You don’t got dicks

Eminem may be no angel, but he is the nuclear core of a helluva good movie. Eminem and 8 Mile – the man and the movie – smoke.

Photos Copyright ©2002 Universal Pictures


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