8 Mule certainly isn’t a classic or cinematic masterpiece, but rather a hip hop bopic focusing on Eminem. Whilst I’m not a massive fan of Eminem’s music, I do like a few of his songs, so I thought I would give 8 Mile a go.
8 Mile focuses on Eminem’s life before he became famous. Eminem plays the lead role of Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith Jr, a young blue-collar worker trying to become a famous rapper. Mekhi Phifer is David “Future” Porter, Jimmy’s closest friend and a rap battle host. Kim Basinger is Jimmy’s deadbeat mum and Brittany Murphy is his love interest. Throughout the film, Jimmy faces off against rival rapping crews and his mum’s abusive live-in boyfriend, all this whilst trying to break into an industry dominated by black people, as a white rapper.
The rapping. Now I’m not an expert in rapping, but I really liked Eminem’s rapping and I think he deserved to win all of his rap battles. I feel that because there is such an over-saturation of gangster rap in the charts that everyone thinks that all rap is about is showing off how much money you have and how many girls you’ve slept with. Rappers like Eminem prove that rap is so much more than this. As I’ve said before, I don’t have a vested interest in rap or the West/East Coast Hip Hop rivalry or the white/black divide in rap, but 8 mile kept me interested throughout the film. It was entertaining and intriguing, as a dramatization of Eminem’s life. I also really liked Jimmy’s relationship with his little sister, which I felt was a nice symbol of hope in the film.
As this film is predominantly about rapping, I do feel it’s unfair to criticise it for its acting which was questionable and over the top at times, or its narrative. One thing that did annoy me was the inclusion of Brittany Murphy’s character who other than being Jimmy’s unfaithful groupie does very little in the film and doesn’t serve much purpose. As an extension of this, the film did little to expand on the characters of Jimmy’s friends, but I guess they weren’t the focus of the film.
As this film is rapping, I do feel it is unfair to give it a lower rating than ‘good.” If you do go to watch this film, watch it for the rapping and don’t expect award-winning performances. Although that notwithstanding, 8 Mile did win an Academy Award for best original song and grossed over 242 million dollars worldwide, so what do I know?