Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

As Actor, Eminem Goes the Distance; Rapper Effective in Big Screen Debut

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

As Actor, Eminem Goes the Distance; Rapper Effective in Big Screen Debut

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, Times-Union movie writer

Can Eminem really act? That's still not clear. But as 8 Mile demonstrates, he is quite good at playing himself.

We may not be seeing Eminem in a puffy white shirt in the next Jane Austen adaptation, but as a tough, trailer-living Detroit rapper, he is perfectly cast.

He's convincingly hot-tempered, brooding and ambitious. He underplays, even: There's no showboating, just a level-headed reality. For that reason, the movie works just fine.

8 Mile can boast that it has L.A. Confidential's Oscar-nominated director, Curtis Hanson, and L.A. Confidential's Oscar-winning co-star, Kim Basinger, but few people are going to see 8 Mile for those reasons.

They'll go for Eminem, all by himself.

8 Mile -- named after the street that divides black and white Detroit -- has loads of gritty texture, much you-are-there detail. And seeing as how it's set in the impoverished parts of the wintry Motor City, you'll be glad you're not there.

What it doesn't have is much of a story; I could give you the plot in 25 words or less if I were the kind of person who gave away the whole plot, which I'm not.

It's basically a Rocky/Mighty Ducks movie set in the world of hip-hop, circa 1995, complete with some bad-guy competitors who dress all in black.

Some Eminem fans in the preview audience I saw it with seemed to get restless. More rapping and less talking and moping and worrying might have kept them appeased.

But the skimpiness of plot is not as big a problem as you might think. The details are that rich, the performances that good.

Eminem plays Jimmy "Rabbit" Smith, Jr., who's trying to make his mark in the Detroit hip-hop scene, where his white skin marks him as an outsider. ("This is hip-hop. You don't belong here," a competitor raps in a one-on-one hip-hop battle at a nightclub. …

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