December, 2002, Drama


Some 46 years ago, Elvis made his screen debut in a particularly cheesy oater called Love Me Tender. It stank, but his career soared anyway, proving that even Hollywood can't kill a pop culture phenom the pubic craves. Marshall Mathers III, (aka Eminem) launches his screen career in a much smarter manner in this big budget, movie directed by Curtis Hanson, (L. A. Confidential). A half-dozen terrific supporting actors fill out Eminem’s posse and Kim Basinger plays his mother. But the script, a thinly disguised version of Mather's early days in Detroit, sanitizes music's current bad boy. Here he works hard at a tough job, adores his little sister, defends his Mom and sticks up for a gay co-worker--not exactly elements of the real life covered so copiously by the press. Eminem does have some screen presence, and he can rap with the best of the homies, but even Hanson's crisp, gritty style can't mask the fact that this is a commercial star-launcher, not a serious examination of the roots of a significant development in American music.    

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