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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (review)

Casualty-of-the-streets turned rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson makes his screen debut… playing a casualty-of-the-streets turned rapper. He’s got mojo enough to hold the screen, but he cannot overcome the tedious sense that we’ve seen this all before, nor can the film’s sober intentions overcome the feeble, lifeless script. All of which class the film as a major disappointment from director Jim Sheridan, who gave us 2003’s luminous In America (and In the Name of the Father, etcetera) but seems to have lost track in his first foray away from Irish-themed films. Perhaps it’s not so much the universal tale that Sheridan and screenwriter Terence Winter (a multiple award winner for his Sopranos scripts) seem to think it is. Sure, maybe everyone wants to get rich, but plenty folks — black, white, whatever — see no great virtue or drama in the “die tryin'” part, at least not the courting death daily as a drug dealer/armed robber. Everyone involved, behind and before the camera, assures us that the film is about how a life of crime is no way to make a living. So why does it feel like it’s saying that a rapper ain’t the real thing if he doesn’t stray from the straight and narrow?


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MPAA: rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, drug content, sexuality and nudity

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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