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Eminem: But Can He Act?

"8 Mile" is Eminem: The Movie, a fictionalized story of his life growing up in a rough neighborhood in Detroit. Since he's basically playing himself, it may not be a big departure for Eminem, but it definitely shows he's arrived.

Producers of this movie are banking on the growing appeal of Marshall Mathers, a.k.a. Eminem, hoping to get an audience of more than just music fans and disaffected teens.

But the idea that Eminem - and all that he's about- is crossing over to the mainstream makes some parents just plain cross.

The movie is backed by a major studio, features major players like Academy Award winner Kim Basinger and is produced by Brian Grazer--who also won an Academy Award for "A Beautiful Mind."

Industry experts say it's destined to be a hit.

"I think this is something that a young audience is going to be very interested in but also an older audience, male audience, female audience, white audience, minority audience!" exclaims Spin Magazine's Dave Itzkoff.

But wait, this is the same guy who managed to alienate a lot of those people with some nasty name-calling about homosexuals and women. Just two years ago, when he won three Grammys, women's groups protested.

Still, even then, he gave a hug to Elton John.

"It's funny to think of Eminem as becoming a gentler soul but clearly the man has mellowed out in the last few years," says Itzkoff.

"8 Mile" is a measure of how far Eminem has come and, perhaps, how far he's willing to go to expand his demographic appeal.

"What's surprising about this movie is how hard it works to diffuse some of these aspects of his image. It works very hard to downplay his homophobia; he actually is portrayed as a champion of gay characters in the film. It works very hard to get a positive message out- do not use gun violence," says Itzkoff.

But not everybody's buying it. Some parents say that, just like the real Slim Shady, the real Eminem is still a violent punk.

Teenagers are still his core audience, and they say his music resonates for a reason.

"He's had rough times with his parents ;he's had a rough time with his wife. Everybody's been in harsh relationships. Everybody's had rough times so they can relate to him emotionally," says Itzkoff.

And now, some of them are sharing their appreciation for Eminem-- with their folks.

"My father likes his new song out on the radio. I swear," says one fan.

What does it mean that his fan base is expanding? What does it mean that 10- year-olds listen? That some of your parents listen?

"That the world is getting angry," says a student.

Or maybe that Eminem is cooling down.

"To reach a mass audience, you have to offer more than just hostility," says Itzkoff.

"Parents hate Eminem and my dad liked his song. That's part of his genius. He can get to everybody," says the fan.