Curtis Hanson directs Eminem, Mekhi Phifer and Brittany Murphy in this underdog hip-hop drama where a white boy from Detroit struggles to find his confidence to win the rap battles he has a clear talent for.
Rocky but with rap but kinda better than Rocky somehow. The grit feels more authentic, the rebellion has a true edge to it. Brittany Murphy as the romantic interest is on a whole other level… her whole body seems to be operating on different voltage… you can’t take your eyes off the visual energy. The support cast in general is impressive. Kim Basinger and Michael Shannon do a little with a lot. The studio must have had an inbuilt fear that the MTV star might not be able to carry a two hour “serious” movie so they’ve buffeted him with quality at every angle. The fear was unjustified. Even though playing a fictionalised version of himself, he carries the flick and you get the feeling he could have even without such strong support. He’s never really acted again, despite this being a sizeable hit in every respect, more as he doesn’t like the process rather than he doesn’t have the ability. Yet we came for the rap battles and by God they deliver. Tense, funny, bouncing – not leaned into too desperately either. This movie had no remit to be made quite so well, so all credit to Curtis Hanson, who was on quite a streak at this point, for landing this so smoothly.
Perfect Double Bill: Juice (1992)
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