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Get Rich or Die Tryin'

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Jan
Get Rich or Die Tryin'
from Film Forum, 11/17/05

Jim Sheridan, who has directed memorable meaningful films like In the Name of the Father and In America has now directed a giant ego trip for rapper 50 Cent, which presents his life as if it were an inspiring tale of redemption, but manages to glorify violence and the hedonism of rap culture. And sure enough, Get Rich or Die Tryin' is stirring up trouble. (One theater has already pulled the film after a shooting in the theater lobby.)

Moviegoers should probably expect this kind of thing from 50 Cent, whose lyrics regularly flaunt his ego, revel in violence, and encourage unhealthy views of women. But from Mr. Sheridan? The man who created such inspiring films about justice and family should be ashamed of himself for investing in a project as misguided as this.

J. Robert Parks (Looking Closer) says the movie's "as predictable as a hip hop booty video. Young man can't stand living at home so he leaves, can't make it as a rapper so he turns to drugs, makes a name for himself on the street, endears himself to the neighborhood drug lords but alienates himself in the end, finally has to stand up for himself. Cue brutal violence and triumphant concert scene. The movie is so transparent that many people in the audience started leaving before the last scene, as if they knew not only what was coming but that they weren't going to miss much."

He concludes, "Get Rich or Die Tryin' is what I expected 8 Mile to be: sappy bio-pic narrative, stilted acting, overly glamorized criminal lifestyle. Unfortunately for 50 Cent and Jim Sheridan, Eminem's film raised the bar for movies starring a famous rapper."

Marcus Yoars (Plugged In) says, "Director Jim Sheridan and screenwriter Terence Winter … certainly hit you between the eyes with the hardships of growing up on the streets. But by concentrating so hard on establishing that gritty environment, they end up celebrating what's wrong more than highlighting what's right. And that's the very thing so many gangsta rappers do with their music. 50 Cent is a prime example of this. He claims to have broken free from his gangbanging past, yet he brags endlessly about its violence in nearly every line of his lyrics."

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) compares it to Hustle and Flow. "Both movies try to sell audiences on rooting for street thugs—a drug dealer and pimp, respectively—by casting them as sensitive underdogs who overcome odds, and in this case death, to embrace their inner poets. Sheridan tries to generate sympathy for Marcus by showing that, compared to the more vicious dealers, he is really a good guy … . But in doing so, Sheridan walks a thin line between fashioning a tale of redemption and glorifying the morally vacuous 'gangsta' lifestyle, summed up by one character as 'get paid and get laid.'"

Todd Patrick (Christian Spotlight) is dismayed. "Scores of teenagers idolize Fifty Cent. And what he preaches to them is violence, hate, drugs, and objectifying women. … Morality is slowly being siphoned out of the movies, leaving us with a cold, valueless society where nothing is judged as wrong. After watching Get Rich, I couldn't help but think of how many teenagers and young men (the target audience of the film) would see this fictionalized life story of Fifty as cool. Who would see nothing wrong with drug dealing, robbing, killing, and doing it all in the name of money. It's a very desensitizing film to sit through."

Despite Sheridan's reputation as a director, mainstream critics find 50 Cent's story "shockingly inert" and "crippled by a trite storyline."