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‘8 Mile’ goes the extra mile

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On Oct. 10 Eminem took the world by storm when he slammed the President Donald Trump, in his nine-minute freestyle ‘Campaign Speech’. The freestyle challenged his fans to “pick a side”- him or Trump. The performance sparked controversy all over the country, and earned Eminem more headlines than he’s seen in years. Most importantly, however, this freestyle brought the magic of Eminem back into the spotlight, even though his  presence/influence never left. The performance of his freestyle reminded me of the many reasons I became a Stan (Eminem fan) back in 2013. His magic is a part of every aspect of Eminem’s life, including his music, his story, and his Academy Award winning film 8 Mile.

8 Mile is a 2002 drama, that tells the story of Jimmy ‘B-Rabbit’ Smith Jr. (Eminem), a young rapper who wants to make it big. However, his struggles with his home life, his friends, and his enemies make achieving his dream even more difficult. Throughout the film, viewers see Jimmy attempt to launch his rap career several times. However, he soon realizes the rap scene is a battle for survival, and that launching a career in a genre dominated by African-Americans is a lot harder than it seems. On top of that, his mother (Kim Basinger) is an alcoholic, her boyfriend (Michael Shannon) is abusive, his ex-girlfriend (Taryn Manning) is pregnant, and he works a blue collar job. He also has to care for his sister (Chloe Greenfield), lives in a bad neighborhood in Detroit, and is in love with a girl named Alex (Brittany Murphy). The film, set in 1995, is based on Eminem’s real life upbringing, which only gives the film more meaning.

Eminem’s ability to be both a genius actor and rapper sets the stage for rappers such as Machine Gun Kelly, who starred in the 2016 summer blockbuster, Nerve, to do the same. One might have doubts about the acting abilities of music personalities, but from personal viewing experience, they do not disappoint. Besides Eminem, I was unfamiliar with the rest of the actors in this cast, apart from Michael Shannon, who I recognized from a 2003 childhood film, Kangaroo Jack. Despite the cast being lesser known, I was more impressed with their performance then I have been with any other ensemble performance in my years of film viewing.  The cast has such a chemistry that makes this film come to life. The dialogue, interactions, and actions put in place by the writers are realistic for young adults.

Another aspect of 8 Mile that sets it apart from the rest is the powerful music, and the messages behind it. At the end of the film there is a rap battle between two characters. Although I will not spoil the film, the characters definitely do more than just trash talk in this battle. The rap battle scene shows characters releasing repressed feelings, which is a simple, but good message that many people forget. The scene also has a character not allowing their fear, in this case, stage fright, get in the way of their dream. This is a life changing realization for many individuals, and it is always nice to see these messages reinforced in film. If Eminem had let fear get in the way of his dream, we would not have the lifesaving Slim Shady that we have in the world today. Also, in terms of music, the songs have an intense backbeat, and are preformed perfectly. For example, his Academy Award winning song, ‘Lose Yourself’, was written for this film, and is critically considered Eminem’s best song to date. The song did generate many amusing “mom’s spaghetti” memes, but most importantly, it give us a wonderful rhythm, well sung verses, and a powerful message within its lyrics. The song focuses on informing the listener to lose themselves in whatever is important to them in life, and not to let anything distract them from it.

All in all, I have NO complaints about 8 Mile. It is a film with a beautiful story, wonderful music, talented actors, and universal messages. I would highly recommend this film to everyone besides children, due to the R-rating (strong language, violence, sexual content, and drug usage). Running at 110 minutes, 8 Mile could be considered a longer film. However, the feeling you get after watching the film is worth every second. As Eminem says in ‘Lose Yourself’:

“This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”

Overall Rating- Five out of Five Stars

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Award winning, student run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield..
‘8 Mile’ goes the extra mile