8 Mile Curtis Hanson

8 Mile Curtis Hanson
It is possible that 8 Mile might not have been the Beat Street of freestyle battle movies if rap superstar Eminem wasn't in the starring role as Jimmy "Bunny Rabbit" Smith Jr., a factory worker living back with his mom in the trailer park after ending his relationship with his girlfriend, and now trying to forget choking during his first rap battle. "We took some things that happened in my life and put them in the movie," says Eminem in the "Making Of" featurette, "and maybe twisted them a little bit, and added some things and took out some things." Rabbit even has a little sister, a substitute for Hailie, Eminem's infamous daughter. Director Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential) has pulled together a tight movie about overcoming all odds to do what you want, regardless of boundaries. Rabbit lives on 8 Mile Rd., the dividing point between black Detroit and the outer white areas. He's a "dope rapper" that isn't taken seriously by his black counterparts at the local battle spot, the Shelter, even as his crew looks up to him. Rabbit must work against racial bias and low income to make his dreams come true. Everything is not resolved for Rabbit over the week covered in 8 Mile, but signs point in the right direction. While the story is well-written and executed (and more complex than it sounds), it's the rap battles that are the thrill. Hanson has captured the drama of the hip-hop battle in an exciting way that will increase interest in the art form, even if it's just for a short time. The "Making Of" featurette should help outsiders understand the appeal of a rap battle, and the exclusive uncensored Eminem rap battles will appeal to the already initiated. But in the end, sales of 8 Mile will be high thanks to millions of Slim Shady fans. Extras: exclusive Eminem rap battles with the extras from the Shelter; a "making of" documentary; uncensored video for "Superman"; a soundtrack sampler; theatrical trailer; production notes and DVD-ROM featurettes. (Universal)