Get Rich or Die Tryin’
Film Reviewed by Kam Williams

50 Cent Dies for Our Sins in Disappointing Screen Debut

Get Rich or Die Tryin’Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Rated R: for full frontal male nudity, topless female nudity, gratuitous violence, pervasive profanity, incessant ethnic slurs, graphic sexuality, and the promotion of drug use.

In Theaters: Nov 9, 2005 Wide
On DVD: Mar 28, 2006

Directed by Jim Sheridan
Running time: 134 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures

Film Review by Kam Williams
Poor (0 stars)

50 Cent may very well be the Second Coming of Christ, as suggested by the pose he adopted on billboards announcing the arrival of his unapologetically gruesome screen debut, but I Ain't buying it. The ad features Fitty, as his loyal fans refer to him, arms extended in a pose similar to that of Jesus on the cross, except that the gangsta’ rapper is holding a gun in one hand, a microphone in the other.

Sadly, the message delivered by Get Rich or Die Tryin’ isn't any deeper than that, as this picture is a rather unremarkable gangsta flick filled with all the stereotypical staples of that ghetto fabulous genre, including my favorite, the ubiquitous scene of skinny, scantily-clad sisters with cannonball implants inexplicably standing around counting stacks of ill-gotten cash in the back room of a seedy-looking drug den.

50 with a gunBe that as it might not, this intrepid critic made the dumb decision to catch the flick in the ’hood in order to put my finger on the pulse by monitoring the reaction of the targeted teen demographic. So, after consulting an expert on clothing color etiquette, to make sure that my outfit wouldn’t offend either Crips or Bloods, I slipped into a seat near the front, knowing that there was a good chance some folks would be yelling back at the screen.

However, what I wasn't prepared for was all the brazen cell phone usage scattered around the audience. There was this one brother a few rows in back of me who, and I am not making this up, carried on a very distracting conversation about a pro athlete for what must have been about 20 minutes, and in a slightly louder than normal tone of voice.

I know what you're thinking. What did I do? No, I wasn't about to suggest that he curtail his call, given the track record of rap-related gatherings.

You tell him. I didn't even turn in his direction. Now, before anybody jumps to conclusions, let me state for the record that I am well aware that this rude behavior isn't just a black thing. About a year or so ago, I made a mental note of a significant cultural shift when I observed that even white people were no longer embarrassed about answering phones right in their seats, and that they, too, were ignoring ’Ssshhh’es.

But I digress. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ purports to be the autobiography of 50 Cent, as it chronicles the native New Yorker overcoming his mom’s murder via the familiar drug dealer-turned-rapper route bragged about in every other mobster’s music video. This emotionally dishonest movie makes a lot of his being shot nine times, but never examines any of the fallout of his chosen lifestyle in depth.

The fictionalized plotline has 50 referred to as Marcus, though I’m not sure why, since it’s obvious who it’s all about. The disgusting dialogue is strictly street, such as when his love interest, Charlene (Joy Bryant) is called a ’Stuck up bitch!’ for ignoring his posse’s crude overtures. It’s never adequately explained exactly why this attractive, well-spoken, relatively-refined young lady would immediately throw over the ’nice guy’ she was with to hook up with a childhood friend who was a hoodlum going nowhere fast.

When not promoting misogyny, Get Rich turns its attention to ethnic intolerance via a profusion of Latino and black slurs. The script is also given to spouting fortune cookie-sounding rules of survival, like ’Show no love. Love will get you killed.’ This asinine aphorism is subsequently affirmed when a sadistic slimeball later admits that like a black widow spider, ’I [f-worded] her. Then I killed her.’ What a charmer.

Veteran actor Bill Duke, meanwhile, is nothing short of a disaster, inadvertently hilarious, channeling the spirit of Marlon Brando to do his best Godfather imitation as the gravel-throated Levar, here, a kingpin without a conscience. And it doesn't help matters any that he’s dressed like he just wandered over from the set of a Seventies blaxploitation flick.

gangsterFYI, Terrence Howard, 50 Cent and a bunch of other male characters appear naked together, full frontal, which has me wondering whether this might be a new trend, given that I just witnessed the same sort of group grope, shower antics in Jarhead. Then there’s the equally shocking scene where a mobster coolly walks up close to a police car and simply blows away the unsuspecting officer sitting behind the wheel. What mantra is that gratuitous sequence supposed to be implanting? That killing cops is a good thing.

This irresponsible, over-extended vanity vehicle was directed by six-time, Oscar-nominee Jim Sheridan who ought to know better than to foist insulting trash like this on the public. Afterall, this very proud Irishman has made some marvelous pictures before about his own people and homeland including inspirational offerings like In the Name of the Father, My Left Foot, and The Boxer, and after he emigrated, his own life story, the very touching In America.

No such luck with this feature which, by contrast, fails to keep it real at every turn, especially all the credibility-testing Canadian locations which bear no resemblance to The Big Apple. While I’m inclined to continue critiquing this fiasco ad infinitum, ad nauseam, enough venting already, since nothing in the power of my words could possibly prevent a review-proof flick with a built-in following from enjoying phenomenal box-office success.

Let me save my breath for a case where what I have to say might actually make a difference.

Related Links

Interview with and Books About 50 Cent

Jim Sheridan, Director of  Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Black Power Line

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