50 Cent’s debut isn’t worth two quarters

Sean Ammerman


Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Starring Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Terrence Howard, Joy Bryant

Directed by Jim Sheridan

Released by Paramount Pictures

Stater rating (out of four): * 1/2


If a movie was made based on your life, would it be worth watching?

In the case of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, there is plenty to make into a drama.

Unless you have been living in a biochemically enhanced sleep chamber for the last five years, you probably know that he survived being shot nine times. The marketing machine of his label has made this fact well known, and there is no doubt this played a role in him boosting his street cred along with generating record-braking album sales.

His label-mate and mentor Eminem got a movie after he made it big (8 Mile), so it is no surprise that 50 Cent is now getting his turn.

Forgetting that record companies expect to make loads of money off his gangsta past, 50 Cent’s life should make a pretty good flick.

He was raised by his single mother until she was killed by a drug dealer when he was 8 years old. Soon after moving in with his grandparents, young 50 Cent turned to drug dealing on the streets of Queens to afford sneakers. The movie touches on all these points of his life, culminating with a family fight when 50 Cent’s character, Marcus, reveals: “I’m a gangsta grampa, and I’m proud of it.”

But the film mostly focuses on after he makes a name for himself as a hustler. After avenging the shooting of one of his crew members, Marcus goes to prison where he runs into a record entrepreneur (Terrence Howard in a movie-stealing performance). Together the two decide to give rap scene a sho (pun intended) once they are released. This puts Marcus in a position where he must choose between being gangsta or a gangsta rapper.

The biggest problem with the film is that it presents the thug lifestyle without making a deep statement about it. Within 20 minutes of the film, Marcus buys a gun, drops out of school, sells enough crack to buy a Benz and meets a smart beautiful woman that stays by his side even though she hates the thug life.

Anyone who listens to 50 Cent’s music should know not to expect a morality play, but with the depth of material here, one would hope to come away with something more than 50 Cent: the warrior. The film walks the line between old school Blaxploitation movies and modern inner-city dramas, but falls short of the best films of either genre. Instead it functions merely as a vehicle for 50 Cent (which was probably the real intention all along).

50 Cent’s dramatic skills are less than admirable. While he is talented at busting a rhyme, he looks silly on screen making soliloquies. Instead of trying to make him another Tony Montana, the screenwriters should have gone the Clint Eastwood Man with No Name avenue: Give 50 Cent fewer than five lines throughout the whole picture while turning Queensbridge into an allegory for the mythical west.

Monday on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” 50 Cent said 75 percent of the film is true, with the rest embellishments to make it fit into an hour and 45 minute movie.

Producers should have chosen one extreme – either present a detailed factual account, or blow the ship out of the water with a crazy sensationalized story. Either would have been better than what they wound up with.

Contact ALL correspondent Sean Ammerman at [email protected].