What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the movie is rated R for nonstop profanity, violence, drug references, and very explicit sexual references and situations. Characters vandalize and burn down an abandoned house, and a character accidentally shoots himself. There's a reference to child rape. Eminem's character has an unstable mother who's living with a boyfriend his age, and she speaks to her son in very inappropriate ways about her sexual relationship. Some viewers will be upset by the neglect of the main character's sister, a little girl who witnesses violence, family fights, a mother who drinks and has sex with a young man, and other abusive situations.
What's the story?
Loosely based on the real-life story of white rap superstar Eminem, this movie is very much in the tradition of other "poor kid with a dream" stories like Saturday Night Fever and Rocky. The structure of these stories is simple: a talented character has to learn to take risks and believe in himself. He has some setbacks, but ultimately triumphs.
Is it any good?
Despite 8 MILE's top behind-the-scenes talent like director Curtis Hanson (of L.A. Confidential and Wonder Boys) and producer Brian Grazer (of A Beautiful Mind), this movie's primary appeal will be to the fans Eminem already has.
For those who accept the premise that rap is an art form, this movie will be easier to believe. This is not the genre-transcending triumph that it was intended to be, but it is far ahead of instantly outdated bombs like Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Eminem has the ability to hold the screen, and if he is not exactly an actor, he is able to muster the few expressions required: tender when he looks at his sister (Chloe Greenfield), hopeful when he looks at Alex (Brittany Murphy), and sullen most of the rest of the time.
Families can talk about...
Families who see this movie could talk about what changed in Rabbit's life to give him the guts to perform. Why was his willingness to insult himself before anyone else could a show of strength that was more devastating to his opponent than an attack could be? How is Eminem in the tradition of white musicians of the past who became successful by appropriating the music developed by black performers? Why did Future support Rabbit? Why did Rabbit support Bob?
Families could also talk about the way the movie makes clear that having sex with someone should not be confused with thinking that you know the person or that you have a relationship. What were the signs that Alex was more interested in her career than in getting to know Rabbit? Note that in one scene, a character watches a short excerpt from a movie called Imitation of Life in which a black woman discovers that her daughter has been passing for white at school. Why would the director chose that scene to include? Families could also talk about how they feel about Eminem's lyrics and why they have been so popular with both teenagers and critics.