Get Rich or Die Tryin' (R) ★½

Review Date: November 14th, 2005

Get Rich or Die Tryin' is a rather poor imitation of 8 Mile--and not even the Oscar-nominated director Jim Sheridan could turn rapper 50 Cent into an actor.


Since the age of 12, Marcus (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) wanted to be a rapper. After his mother Katrina (Serena Reeder) is brutally killed, Marcus’ rap dreams are put on hold and he begins hustling drugs to make enough money for a nice pair of shoes. Only, he doesn’t stop at the shoes. When Marcus gets involved with Majestic (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), he sees how much money there is to be made in the drug business, and he wants it all. Then his childhood best friend, Charlene (Joy Bryant), moves back to Queens, and they fall in love. But it isn’t too long before she gets pregnant and he is arrested. While perfecting his rap skills in jail, he meets Bama (Terrence Howard) who becomes his manager and lifesaver on the outside, taking him out of the drug game for good.


50 Cent may have the rap world locked up, but his acting skills leave a lot to be desired. Watching him trying to emote is sort of akin to watching a bad comic bomb on stage. He seems to be the first rapper-turn-actors these days who can’t cut it. Thankfully, Get Rich’s supporting cast help out--a little. Marc John Jefferies (Stuart Little 2, Spider-Man 2), who plays the young Marcus, nearly steals the show. At first loving and caring, then turning cold and unforgiving, Jefferies made it look easy to flip the switch between the two. Another standout is Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (HBO’s Oz), as the crooked drug lord Majestic. And in a year chockfull of good performances, Terrence Howard, who obviously just wanted to work with Sheridan, adds much needed comic relief as the quirky Bama.


Director Jim Sheridan, whose resume includes Oscar-winning films such as In America and My Left Foot, probably thought that if Oscar-winning director Curtis Hanson could handle Eminem’s 8 Mile with aplomb, then he could do the same thing with a gangsta rap story. Guess he forgot the fact Hanson (L.A. Confidential) can do gritty. The very Irish Sheridan is just clearly way out of his element. Get Rich jumps around so much, you don’t have any time to figure out what’s happening, who’s who or where the heck the film’s heading. And it doesn’t help that the chaotic script is peppered with such stereotypical dialogue. Honestly, if you want to see a compelling story about a wannabe rapper getting his shot (and not shot at), rent this year’s Hustle & Flow.

Bottom Line rated this film * 1/2