NEW YORK (Eminem Fans Website) - Director
Curtis Hanson's latest project, the Eminem
film 8 Mile, could be dubbed Rocky for the rap set.
A dark-haired Eminem stars as Jimmy Smith Jr., a factory worker and fledgling rapper who lives in his trailer park home with his unstable mother (Kim Basinger). (Sound familiar?) Through rap battles, Jimmy (whose rap name is B. Rabbit) attempts to earn credibility among his primarily African-American peers. Although he "chokes" on his first try, Jimmy works in earnest to reach his goal, with the support of his emcee friend, Future (Mekhi Phifer).
The two-hour film, loosely based on Eminem's life, tells the story with humor and honesty laid over the backdrop of decaying areas of Detroit. Hanson and screenwriter Scott Silver (The Mod Squad, Johns) capture the essence of Detroit, using the area codes of the city and suburbs (313 and 810, respectively) as ways of separating the social classes. 8 Mile also pays tribute to a pair of Detroit mainstays, urban radio station WJLB-FM as well as the Shelter nightclub, the basement of St. Andrew's Hall.
Eminem is stunning in his first motion picture. He portrays the sensitive Jimmy with the ability of a veteran actor. He can tell a story with his eyes, sharing the disappointment of his failures -- in music, love, and life -- while having faith in the future. The chemistry between Eminem and Phifer and between Eminem and Brittany Murphy, who plays his love interest Alex, is strong. Eminem and Phifer play well off each other, most notably in a scene where Eminem's Jimmy pokes fun of his mother's boyfriend by creating a rap to "Sweet Home Alabama": "I live at home in a trailer/Mom I'm coming home to you."
Director Hanson made a surprise appearance at the Detroit premiere Monday (Oct. 21) at the Phoenix Theatre at the Bel-Air Center on the notorious 8 Mile Road, considered the border between the squeaky clean suburbs and the inner city.
The Oscar-winning director has a penchant for casting future stars -- Tom Cruise in Losin' It, Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce in L.A. Confidential, and Tobey Maguire in Wonder Boys. It looks like he's done it again.