November 8, 2002
An Eminem-starring vehicle about an angry young man who tries to break away from his bleak circumstances in a rough Detroit neighborhood via his rap music, 8 Mile is vaguely reminiscent of another ostensibly-fictionalized tale that featured a big musical star, Mariah Carey's Glitter.
8 Mile is helmed by Curtis Hanson, who won an Oscar® for the screenplay of LA Confidential, in addition to being nominated as the film's director. He followed that fine project by taking on Wonder Boys, another movie that is regarded highly by critics and fans alike.
Hanson is also the director of the painfully unfunny television series Greg the Bunny, which can currently be seen on Fox.
Nearly everything producer Brian Grazer touches turns to gold these days, with his most recent successes being Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and the coup de grâce, the Academy Award® winning A Beautiful Mind. Grazer has spoken of his very favorable impressions of Eminem's intensity and maturity in delivering his performance, and claims that Hanson is creating an enthralling film that is full of life.
Screenwriter Scott Silver's only other major scripting credit is for the abysmal Mod Squad.
There have been numerous rumors floating around the set that Eminem and co-star Kim Basinger are involved in a little romantic fling. Basinger plays the rapper's mother, and is nearly 20 years his senior.
Can I go now?
All kidding aside, 8 Mile is the latest in a series of recent projects to involve high-profile recording artists. Beginning with the aforementioned Glitter, and going on to the utter failure of On the Line, starring Lance Bass and Joey Fatone of the boy band 'N Sync, the prospects for such films looked dismal until Mandy Moore found success with A Walk to Remember and Britney Spears' Crossroads had a strong showing. The hope would be that the involvement of Grazer and Hanson will put 8 Mile a step above the rest, and with a $50 million budget, they'd better hope the quality is there.
Expanding on the film's plot, 8 Mile is known to Detroit natives as the city limit, but on a much deeper level, it symbolizes the psychological dividing line that keeps main character Jimmy Smith, Jr., from where and who he hopes to be. The story will focus on a critical month in the young man's life, as he attempts to find a sense of purpose and to establish his own identity even as his community and family crumble around him. He finds he is able to express his anger and fear through his rap music, which may help him transcend both the physical and the mental barriers he faces.
Rounding out the cast are Brittany Murphy (Don't Say a Word), Mekhi Phifer ("O") and Eugene Byrd, who plays one of Jimmy's rap buddies. Also factoring into the film's overall appeal will be a moody and provocative soundtrack by Eminem and Dr. Dre. Universal will probably wisely market the film heavily on MTV and the more youth-oriented networks, such as the WB and UPN, but it is important to keep in mind that 8 Mile will in all probability have a lot of rough language and situations. This indicates the film will likely merit an R rating without some editing for content, thereby putting itself out of range of some of the demographic most likely to have a strong interest. Still, with the involvement of Grazer and Imagine Entertainment, 8 Mile is not a film to be taken lightly. (Kim Hollis)
Comparison films for 8 Mile
|Higher Learning *
|River Wild, The
|Hand that Rocks the Cradle, The
|On the Line