Don't Go The "8 MILE" - Movie Review
by Michael Elliott

Artistic Rating: 2.0 Stars
Comments: A story about a boy who lifts himself from the gutter but takes the vocabulary with him.
Directed By: Curtis Hanson
Starring: Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy, Mehki Phifer, Eugene Byrd, Evan Jones
Written By: Scott Silver
Rated: R For strong language, sexuality, some violence, drug use
Running Time: 1 hr : 51 min
Scripture References: James 2:17, 2 Peter 1:5-8, Hebrews 12:1

If extreme profanity, steamy sex scenes, and the use of an English so fractured that it often becomes indecipherable is in anyway offensive to you, 8 Mile might describe the distance you'd want to keep from Eminem's film debut.

Set in a seedily depressing Detroit (8 Mile is apparently the descriptive used to mark the city's boundary), the film depicts a week in the life of Bunny Rabbit. That's B. Rabbit to his friends. Rapper Eminem plays the poorly named protagonist who tries to hip hop a way out of his less than desirable existence. He chooses the only method available to him... his practiced ability to rhyme insults quickly.

We can certainly understand why he wants to leave. His mother (Kim Basinger, Bless The Child), a fading redneck trailer trash beauty with whom he lives, is in a sexual relationship with an ex-classmate of his. His friends are losers with high dreams but low expectations. He has a dead end factory job which he hates. Only his rapping seems to bring him any respect and any hope for escape to a better world.

The question is which path should he follow? Friend Wink (Eugene Byrd, Promised Land) seems to have the connections to the record promoters that have the financial muscle to launch Rabbit on a musical career. Another friend, Future (Mekhi Phifer, O), hosts a weekly "battle" where rappers face each other in a musical game of "the dozens," hurling rhyming insults at each other before a chanting crowd.

Director Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential) paints a gritty picture of a life on the streets of Detroit and guided by his hand, 8 Mile has the appearance of being a better film than it is. It is the script by Scott Silver (The Mod Squad) that disappoints. Aspiring to be a Rocky for the hip hop crowd, it's dueling rap scenes are more reminiscent of Over The Top, Stallone's easily forgettable arm wrestling epic.

Eminem has chosen wisely for his first feature film. The character of Rabbit plays directly to his strengths and does not require him to stretch too far outside of his capabilities. It is a fine first effort and shows an intelligence and sensitivity lurking behind his profane rap persona.

Mehki Phifer is a strong presence as Future who is rooting for Rabbit to develop his "street cred" and Evan Jones (On The Line) adds comic relief as the slowwitted Cheddar Bob, a member of Rabbit's Three One Third "crew." Brittany Murphy (Don't Say A Word) is an alluring temptress who becomes a sexual pawn in the developing tension between rappers.

The racial elements are downplayed in the film. The conflict is instead intended to come from the rivalry which exists between Rabbit's crew and another group who call themselves the Free World (although this rivalry is not well defined and rather blurry until the closing scenes).

Of course, the dominant conflict of the film is the one brewing within Rabbit. What he learns is that there comes a point when one must stop dreaming his dreams and start living them. Wanting, even believing for something is never enough. There comes a time when we will have to take action to achieve our goals.

"So also faith [believing], if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead)." James 2:17 (Amplified)

No matter how much we may dream of a better future, if we want to get it out of our heads and into our lives, we are going to have to take the necessary and appropriate actions to turn it into a reality. Action does not replace believing. It is a natural extension of it. If we never take action, the only time we'll see our dreams is when we sleep.

-Michael Elliott-c/o Movie Parables

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