By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated September 11, 2002 01:00 PM

The public got its first look at Eminem’s movie debut this week, with the Toronto Film Festival premiere of “8 Mile,” starring the Grammy-winning rapper and directed by Curtis Hanson (“L.A. Confidential”).

Reaction, according to several published reports, was extremely favorable.

“Welcome to 8 Mile, otherwise known as ‘The Eminem Movie,'” Hanson, 57, told the festival goers, explaining that the print they were seeing — the picture doesn’t officially open until Nov. 8 — was not finished and that the movie was a “work in progress”, but, he joked, “the picture being a little raw is not inappropriate.”

In “8 Mile,” Eminem, 29, plays (real stretch here) an aspiring Detroit rapper named Jimmy Smith Jr. According to Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, “The good news is that he does it very well. The surprising news is that the film also contains large dollops of laughs.”

Director Hanson was cited by the newspaper for managing “to supplement Eminem’s self-regarding intensity without diluting his undeniable presence. The result is a refreshing anomaly — a rapper rebel without a cause, but with a cutting sense of humor.”

USA Today points out the positive reaction to the movie’s “several rounds of insult-laced street poetry,” and reported that viewers “gasped with laughter when Kim Basinger, as Eminem’s bingo-playing mama, shares a raunchy revelation.” (No word yet on what exactly she reveals.)

Eminem, meanwhile, was not at the screening — the rapper was busy with his day job, wrapping up the Anger Management concert tour.