8 Mile



USA 2002 : Curtis Hanson : 110mins

Supposedly “inspired” by Eminem’s self-proclaimed version of his early life, this is an embarrassingly cartoonish vision of Detroit poverty and race relations, circa 1995. Jimmy Smith Jr (Eminem) lives at home in a scuzzy trailer-park with his alcoholic mother Stephanie (Kim Basinger) and young sister Lily (Chloe Greenfield). Fuming with anger at his family’s dire straits (“We’re bein’ evicted!” wails Mama at one absurd juncture), he blames Stephanie and barely bothers to conceal his resentment at her white-trash, Lynyrd-Skynyrd-fan boyfriend Greg (Michael Shannon). Jimmy works out his anger by rapping under the name ‘B.Rabbit’, taking part in inner-city-club ‘battles’ refereed by his mentor Future (Mekhi Phifer) – could he possibly be on his way to becoming a big rap star??

Though technically competent, Hanson has always one of the more script-dependent of directors – and he’s come a right cropper with Scott Silver’s laughable excuse for a screenplay this time. Eminem’s Smith is surrounded by a collection of crudely-drawn, thankless non-characters acting out a string of grindingly predictable situations and plot contrivances, and the depressing results make the Britney Spears epic CrossRoads look like A Star Is Born. Stunning incompetence in scriptwriting isn’t necessarily a crime, of course. But when a film comes along like 8 Mile, purporting to deal with serious modern social issues – issues which are all too seldom addressed in mainstream US cinema – blundering work like Silver’s simply isn’t acceptable. To paraphrase Hunter S Thompson, he should be chased out of Hollywood at the sharp end of a pitchfork.

13th January, 2003
(seen FilmWorks, Manchester, 10th January)

To find out (much, much) more on why 8 Mile is the worst film of the year, click here

In addition to this there are (unfortunately) more films as bad as this one – to check out the worst of them go to our Diorama of Dishonour to read films rated 1 or 2.

by Neil Young
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