Eminem as Jimmy Smith Jr.
Kim Basinger as Stephanie Smith
Brittany Murphy as Alex
Mekhi Phifer as David Porter
Eugene Byrd as Wink
Omar Benson Miller as Sol George
Taryn Manning as Janeane
Brandon T. Jackson as Chin Tiki Club Goer
Evan Jones as Chedder Bob
Anthony Mackie as Papa Doc
Michael Shannon as Luke
De’Angelo Wilson as D.J Iz
Xzibit as Hassan
Eminem gives an impressive performance in this realistic portrayal of young artists trying to make it in the music industry.
The people of Detroit know 8 Mile as the city limit, a border, a boundary. It is also a psychological dividing line that separates Jimmy Smith Jr. from where and who he wants to be. “8 Mile” is a provocative fictional examination of a critical week in Jimmys life, starring multi-platinum recording artist Eminem in his first leading role in a feature film.
Producer Brian Grazer (“A Beautiful Mind”) knows which movies to pick and “8 Mile” is no exception. He co-produced the musical drama with Curtis Hanson (“L.A. Confidential”), who also sat in the director’s chair. The film is roughly based on a part of Eminem’s past, though there are a lot of changes and the film takes place in only one week. Co-star Brittany Murphy says that he is just “perfectly cast” in this role and there’s no doubt about that.
Eminem’s Jimmy Smith Jr. is friends with several wannabe rappers who more than anything would like to land a record deal. They all don’t have much money to actually buy studio time to record a song. The most promising out of the group is Smith Jr. who looks to have the sound, lyrics and rhythm to make it. His closest friend, David Porter (Phifer), hosts a weekly ‘battle’ of the rappers to see who is tops in the neighborhood on the other side of 8 Mile. Smith Jr. tries out and ends up choking in front of everyone making him the laughing stock among the community. But that’s not going to stop him, as there might be a chance for him to break out with a possible recording session a friend is willing to set up for him.
Eminem’s performance as the struggling actor is very impressive. People might say that he’s just playing himself, but he couldn’t have pulled this off without great acting abilities. His trailer-trash mom is played by Kim Basinger who, besides the accent that didn’t work for the most part, is convincing as one who wants to take care of her kids but doesn’t really know how to. Smith Jr. is forced to move back in with his mom, who is sleeping with someone the same age as him, and a struggle ensues in that situation.
There’s a girl Smith Jr. meets along the way who shows a lot of interest in the could-be star. Brittany Murphy plays Alex who is looking for a way out of the town so that she can head to New York. There’s good chemistry between the two on the screen, Alex and Smith Jr. have a hot scene in the factory where he works which the crowd I was in particularly enjoyed.
Curtis Hanson cast a strong supporting cast, which offer laughs, emotion and interesting characters. Though most of the names you’ve never heard of, they did a great job and helped bring the story to life. Let’s hope we continue to see this cast in more films in the future.
The original music by Eminem suits the movie perfectly. The popular song, “Lose Yourself,” is used in several instances and it works well, especially how the music is used when he prepares for ‘battle’, his studio time and the closing scene.
The story and the setting are two of the main elements that make this movie great. The run-down Detroit streets, buildings, and the old/poor-looking sets put you right into the middle of things. The script by Scott Silver (“The Mod Squad”) makes everything believable in the sense that it is not another cinderella, or “Pretty Woman,” story – it’s the real thing. The characters don’t just get a ticket to wherever they would like to go or who they would like to be, and Smith Jr. is the one who has to come to that reality.