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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 8 Mile is a 2002 movie in which Eminem plays a version of himself, chronicling the tremendous difficulties he had to overcome to find success. There is nonstop profanity (including frequent use of "f--k," "motherf---er," and the "N" word), 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. Homophobic slurs are often used, and even as Eminem's character defends a gay coworker who was insulted by a coworker in the heat of a rap battle, he still uses HIV as a punch line.
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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 such as 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 such as director Curtis Hanson and producer Brian Grazer, this movie's primary appeal will be to the fans Eminem already has.
For those who accept 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 This is not the genre-transcending triumph that it was intended to be, but it's far ahead of instantly outdated bombs like Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can 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 are the African-American, poor white, and blue-collar cultures of Detroit conveyed in this movie? Do these depictions seem accurate to you? Why, or why not?
What are some other examples of movies in which characters who are far from perfect still emerge as positive role models, despite their flaws and indiscretions? What positive values does Eminem's character begin to put into practice as a way to rise above difficult surroundings and dire situations?
How is Eminem in the tradition of white musicians who become successful by appropriating the music developed by African-American performers?
- In theaters: October 8, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: March 18, 2003
- Cast: Brittany Murphy, Eminem, Kim Basinger
- Director: Curtis Hanson
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong language, sexuality, some violence and drug use.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.