8 Mile is about as far away from genre-changing or inventive as you can get, but it's, surprisingly, a worthwhile film. The film tells the familiar tale of an underdog living a hard life who rises to the occasion when faced with a life-changing challenge, but not without countless obstacles in his/her way. This time, instead of it being a shot at the heavyweight title (Rocky), or a shot at finally playing for a football team (Rudy), or coming from the slums to win millions on a game show (Slumdog Millionaire), the film covers the rise of an aspiring rapper. As you can see, this plot has been done countless times before, and is completely predictable for the most part; the ending is a nice change of pace, however, culminating in a tense rap battle that doesn't end quite as expected. Yet, somehow, the film retains resonance and impact. Much of that impact is likely due to the performances, all of which are really great. Director Curtis Hanson's direction is subtle and personal, and really allows you to become invested in this story and these characters. For a first time actor (excluding an appearance in The Wash), Eminem makes for a surprisingly compelling lead, with a lot of heart and soul put into his performance. It probably helps that the role is semi-biographical, so he's given plenty of inspiration to draw from. The other performance worth mentioning is Kim Basinger as B-Rabbit's mother, who manages to tread the line of being a loving mother and an exhausted mother. Brittany Murphy and Michael Shannon also co-star, and give good performances too. All in all, in spite of its familiarity, 8 Mile is a worthwhile watch for any Eminem fan, or rap fan, or fan of underdog stories. This tale has enough strong elements to make up for its narrative shortcomings. The climax alone is worth it.