Born and raised in poverty-stricken, ghetto Detroit, Rabbit is forced to grow up fast. He spends time smoking weed with his buddies, going to clubs, and participating in the Detroit underground rap/hip-hop scene. Helped by his best friend Future (who has connections in the recording industry), Rabbit manages to secure places in various “rap battles” at clubs throughout the city. Ultimately, the rhymes and beats are what keep Rabbit sane, day-by-day, in a city full of crime and violent gang rivalries. He frequently writes down lyrics while riding the bus home from work. And more importantly, he wants to use his rapping talent as a way to elevate his life and help his family and friends. He’s willing to put in extra time at work during the day in order to support himself and his mother, while he pursues his hip-hop dream during the evenings.
Rabbit is routinely discriminated against by his black rivals in the rap scene, who dismiss him as “white trash” and mock him and his friends. Because of this, Rabbit raps with a chip on his shoulder, constantly trying to break down barriers and show off his skill level — to prove that a white man can, in fact, succeed in this business.
This riveting, entertaining film chronicles Rabbit’s eventful life — his repetitive job at a metal imprint factory, his conflicts with his mother and her alcoholic boyfriend, his romance with attractive blonde Alex, his feuds with both hip-hop rivals and backstabbing friends, and his relationship with his little sister. All are shown in the context of Rabbit’s attempt to claw his way to the top of the rap game, and in turn, create an identity for himself. He doesn’t just wanna be a white trailer-park kid from Detroit, he wants to be a star in the genre he loves.
This semi-autobiographical film stars the controversial Eminem as B-Rabbit, which is a very convincing performance. The film also made history when Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” became the first rap song to ever win Best Original Song at the Academy Awards. A critical and commercial success, 8 Mile has become a symbolic story and has helped contribute to Eminem’s enduring popularity. The film features Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer, and Anthony Mackie in supporting roles; the late rapper Proof (also from Detroit) also makes an appearance. This film has themes that almost all of us can relate to — trust, love, betrayal, and perseverance, just to name a few. B-Rabbit is a great character to root for, and he gives us plenty of reasons to do just that in this film. Even if you don’t like rap or hip-hop, I promise you’ll find things to like in this powerful and inspiring drama.
Directed by Curtis Hanson
Written by Scott Silver
Produced by Curtis Hanson, Brian Grazer, Jimmy Iovine, and Stuart Parr
Starring Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer, Omar Benson Miller, Evan Jones, Eugene Byrd, De’Angelo Wilson, Anthony Mackie, Proof, Michael Shannon, and Chloe Greenfield
Rated R for strong language, sexuality, some violence and drug use.