Review Date: November 11, 2002
Director: Curtis Hanson
Writer: Scott Silver
Producers: Brian Grazer, Curtis Hanson, Jimmy Iovine
A white kid blue-collar working at a factory, while living in a trailer with his mom and little sister, has dreams of making it as a rapper. Hanging out with his black buddies and the happenin' clubs, the dude seems to have everything going against him. His mom's not supportive, her boyfriend's an a-hole, his friends all seem to talk out of their asses, the girls in his life suck...what's a man to do? Slim Shady...where are you? Rapping and a tale of overcoming adversity and pursuing your dreams...ensues.
So that's why this dude is so angry all the time!! Now I get it. Seriously though, I enjoyed this film. It had an amazing real "look" to it all, very grungy, street-level, loved the story (although I've always been a fan of underdog flicks), dug the tunes (and I'm not a rap or hip-hop fan-although I love the theme song "Lose Yourself") and especially appreciated Eminem's presence. I think that he was really good in this movie, but that's not to say that I believe him to be an all-out great actor, per se (make sense?). Much like Courtney Love in THE PEOPLE VS LARRY FLYNT, the guy is basically just playing himself, and even though he definitely did have to commit to the character and come across as believable, emotional and actually "play" the character scene to scene, I'll have to wait and see how well he does in other roles before stroking him all the way on this one. But much like in his music videos, the man does exude plenty of palpable angst, as well as chemistry with those around him, and being as the entire movie is basically about his character, props go out to Eminem for delivering the goods. Solid job, daddy-o! Everyone else was convincing as well, but I personally had an issue with the casting choice of Kim Basinger as his mom. It didn't work for me when I originally heard about it, and it didn't work for me after having seen the movie. She just looked too pretty and "together" to work as his white-trash mom. His "boys" were good though, especially Phifer, and I also liked how they didn't make all of the black dudes stereotypical (his relationship with Cheddar MC was especially sweet). And despite the film running close to two hours, I can't say that I was ever really bored. Slim Shady's journey was an interesting one and his performance kept me involved all the way.
His back and forth with Brittany Murphy was also decent (and their sex scene, particularly believable-now that's a real fuck!), and I especially liked how he started the film off as this ambiguous, introverted, pissed off white kid, but ultimately gave us a peek into the different sides of his life, as well as the pressures surrounding him (and unlike many of his songs seem to indicate-it's not just his mom!!). BTW, much like in his own life, the film never addresses the issue of Eminem's father. Is he assumed to be dead? If someone knows, drop me an email. If there were a couple of issues that I had with this film, it would be that it felt a little redundant at times, and even though I did get into this dude's plight-we all knew exactly what was going to happen in the end, so in that sense, it was a little anti-climactic. But those are minor complaints, and overall, the film had a great mood to it, everyone was believable, Em was solid in his lead role and I even got a tiny bit emotional in spots (which might have something to do with the fact that I still live with my folks!) So it's really no wonder that this movie opened with a cool $54 million at the box-office in its first three days alone. Eminem has obviously connected with a lot of people through his music and when you consider that this film is basically just a "biography" of how he made it...the results are a no-brainer. And yes, I would even recommend this film to anyone who isn't a fan of the rapper, only to see another side of him and to enjoy a decent, American, inspirational, Rocky-esque story. Curtis Hanson...I thought you had flipped your lid when you agreed to take on this project, but you showed my doubtful ass up. Solid stuff!
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian