Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Woody Allen joked back in the 60s or 70s that all urban dramas in those days were about turning street gangs into basketball teams, and vice-versa. That was back in the days when all movie black guys were drug dealers, pimps, and petty criminals who wanted to play in the NBA. Now there is a new kind of movie black guy. He is a drug dealer, pimp, or petty criminal who wants to be a hip-hop legend rather than a power forward.

How we have progressed!

Get Rich is, as characterized by the official plot summary, "A tale of an inner city drug dealer who turns away from crime to pursue his passion, rap music." That's pretty much the summary for all this millennium's movies about gritty inner-city life.

So now all urban dramas are about turning street gangs into rap acts.

And vice versa.

Another 2005 film, Hustle & Flow, received critical accolades for the way it developed this same theme, but the critics and fans excoriated Get Rich or Die Tryin', perhaps because many viewed it as an insincere vanity project for 50 Cent, as well as an unnecessary trip over well-traveled trails. In fact, this film is so familiar that Terrence Howard, who played the criminal-turned-rapper in Hustle & Flow, plays the manager of the criminal-turned-rapper in Get Rich.

Get Rich is rated a microscopic 2.5 at IMDb - 42nd worst of all time - and that fact produces one of the strangest pages in the entire IMDb universe: the career filmography for the respected Irish director Jim Sheridan. It looks like one of those Sesame Street games of "one of these things is not like the other."

  1. (7.89) - In America (2002)
  2. (7.80) - In the Name of the Father (1993)
  3. (7.59) - My Left Foot (1989)
  4. (6.88) - The Field (1990)
  5. (6.80) - The Boxer (1997)
  6. (2.53) - Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2005)

Of course, Get Rich is not really bad enough to be among the fifty worst movies of all time. The film is dark and angry, and it represents a foreign country for which the average movie fan has no visa, so it managed to please almost nobody, but Jim Sheridan is a true professional who knows how to make a movie.  Roger Ebert kept an open mind about the film and, although he detested some of its moral equivocation about drug dealing, gave it a fairly positive three-star review based on its craftsmanship.

Personally, I couldn't wait for the sumbitch to end, craftsmanship be damned, even though I have liked similar movies in the recent past. I really liked Hustle & Flow, and was at least somewhat positive about 8 Mile, but Get Rich has too many drugs and too little music for my taste. Furthermore, Mr. Cent, although a real rapper essentially playing a fictionalized version of himself, just doesn't have the acting chops to play himself. It certainly isn't the godawful movie that the IMDB score seems to promise, but it is a mediocre and tedious cliché.

The DVD is radically overpriced at $30 SRP, but its value dropped faster than Enron stock. You could have picked up a used one for $13 within a day of release. By the time you read this, there may be sellers in the Amazon Marketplace who will pay you to take it.



  • A Portrait of an Artist - The Making of Get Rich or Die Tryin'
  • The widescreen transfer is anamorphically enhanced


  • There is substantial male nudity in a shower scene turned violent, and there are some male butts elsewhere.

  • Joy Bryant shows fleeting glimpses of her breasts.

  • Two unnamed women show their breasts in a post-threesome scene.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Roger Ebert gave it 3/4

  • British consensus out of four stars: one and a quarter. Mail 2/10, Telegraph 2/10, Independent 2/10, Guardian 2/10, Times 4/10, Sun 5/10, Express 4/10, Mirror 4/10, BBC 3/5.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 2.5/10 (#42 on the bottom 100)
  • Box Office Mojo. Despite its "Bottom 100" status, it grossed a surprising $30 million domestically, proving the existence of a market which would probably deliver monstrous numbers for urban films done well.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C-, a slick enough movie, but strictly a "me, too" effort in the "hip-hop as a route out of crime" sub-genre. If curious, watch Hustle & Flow or 8 Mile instead.

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