Review: ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Everyone loves them some “Fitty Cent.” Shouldn’t you?

When little Marcus (Marc John Jefferies) was growing up in the 80’s with dreams of becoming a rap artist, he may not have known who his daddy was but his drug-dealing momma made sure he stayed in clothes and sneakers… right up until she got killed. Forced to grow up with his grandparents (and almost a dozen other children), the adult Marcus (Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson) took up where his mother left off but was determined to “do it right.” Rapping when not dealing for his supplier Majestic (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Marcus’ rage eventually emerges in an unsanctioned assassination; to make amends, Marcus takes the heat and goes to prison himself on a fake charge (yeah, the cops are on the take). With little else to do inside, he again begins to write lyrics and finds a manager to promote him when he gets out, but old friendships and rivalries get in the way, leading up to Marcus dying in the street with (count ’em) nine gunshot wounds…

That “respect” means more than “love” (“Love will get you killed,” each major character says ominously in turn) is a recurring theme of the fictionalized life story of 50 Cent, or “Little Ceaser” as his in-film alter ego rap star. While the story of a man getting shot nine times and surviving it (to become the celebrity he always dreamed he could) is interesting to say the least, the bits leading up to and following the incident is the same old thing we’ve already heard before and very recently (see 8 Mile for more plot details).

The other thing that seems a bit annoying is how “ever’body loves Marcus” (can a CBS sitcom be far behind?), even those who want him dead. For someone embracing the thug lifestyle of a gangsta rappa, he never hurts women (because his momma told him not to) and never does what he sells (regardless of who it may be hurting). Marcus is just the nicest drug-dealing thug-with-a-gun you could ever want to know, whether you meet him robbing a check cashing store front or in a prison shower murder attempt. Remember, kids, even career criminals with dreams of celebrity should be loved by all.

The film looks good and Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson has been surrounded by enough real actors to make him look good. It was also a good opportunity for Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, an actor who’s already been popping up here and there and doesn’t waste this chance to be villainous. The ‘epic’ storyline feels padded by every known thug-to-riches story around; even the ‘love interest’ with Joy Bryant and a child seems hollow since it’s just more people that love them some Fitty Cent. And like all don’t-you-know-I’m-great-yet performers looking to raise themselves up from the street and into the hearts of paying customers everywhere, the right song (whether sung, rapped, or played with spoons) will change the world and make theirs a perfect and lucrative place.

For fans of the rap star, Get Rich is an unoriginal fairy tale (or ghetto tale) about how hard work will make you successful and everyone love you no matter how you begin. Maybe that’s a positive message for youngsters, but in an R-rated film with this many guns, this much nudity, and this much language, it’s too unsophisticated for anyone who should be allowed to see it and too unrealistic for that audience to really believe in it. So, excluding everyone who’s seen it already, who knew the title was referring to the film itself not the characters in it?

(a one and a half skull recommendation out of four)

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