Movie review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Ten9Eight Movie Poster Image
Docu features teen CEOs beating poverty, drugs, violence.
  • NR
  • 2010
  • 84 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The documentary presents entrepreneurship as an alternative to dropping out of school and other risky behavior. Although some of the teens are motivated by greed, overall the movie has positive messages about working hard, reaching for goals, and empowering yourself to overcome obstacles and be successful. The film also acts as an advocate for educators.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The teens aren’t perfect, but their work and commitment to their businesses make them positive role models for other teens. Various races, religions, and ethnicities are represented.


The contestants briefly talk about the violent neighborhoods they lived in and the number of friends and family who died as a result. The documentary asserts that a large number of high school dropouts end up dead at a young age. Men are shown being incarcerated. One contestant discusses being sexually molested by a family member.


Some contestants discuss teen sex, pregnancy, and birth control. One talks about becoming a teen father. Condoms are briefly visible.


The logos of corporate sponsors -- including AOL and Chase Bank -- appear. The judges are CEOs of major corporations like Nantucket Nectars, Oppenheimer Funds, and Home Depot. The film acts as a promotional vehicle for the NFTE Business Education Program.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many of the contestants are attempting to stay away from drugs while coping with the addictions of their parents and/or other family members. Drug dealing is discussed as a negative activity.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this documentary about inner-city teens participating in a national business plan competition offers lots of positive messages about staying in school, working hard, setting goals, and reaching for dreams. It also introduces business entrepreneurship as an alternative to violence, criminal activity, and/or drug abuse. The young contestants’ personal stories deal with violence, addiction, molestation, and absentee parents, but all of these tough topics are addressed within the context of positive narratives about overcoming obstacles.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byMovieBuff41 February 8, 2010
Teen, 14 years old Written byTotally500 August 31, 2010

Following your dreams of being a CEO

I like it so much. I love their ideas and inventions. Even through they lost. Their still winners of tomorrow.

What's the story?

In TEN9EIGHT, inner-city high school students from across the country compete in a national business plan competition. The 35 high school students -- who have created businesses for things like importing cell phone charger machines and selling vegetarian dog treats -- were selected from the 24,000 participants in the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Business Education Program to compete in the organization's 2008 competition in New York City. During the competition, the young entrepreneurs -- all of whom have coped with racial tensions, poverty, drugs, and violence in their lives -- get the chance to impress high-profile judges like Home Depot CEO Arthur Blank and USA Network co-founder Kay Koplovitz for a prize of $10,000. Only one young CEO wins the money, but all of the contestants take home the confidence to continue building their business and secure a successful future.

Is it any good?

This inspiring documentary showcases the successful NFTE program, which was developed as a dropout prevention program almost 20 years ago. It seems to have accomplished its goals: The movie highlights some of the difficult situations the contestants have overcome by participating in business education activities. And it also emphasizes the fact that most of the teens' current and future success is owed to staying in school.

But it's the teens’ personal journeys and insights -- which come as a result of their private struggles and professional endeavors -- that are the main source of inspiration here. They offer positive messages about working hard, setting goals, and persevering in the face of challenges. The group also demonstrates how it's possible to overcome tough situations by getting an education. Best of all, the featured teens serve as positive role models for others across the country.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the movie's contestants counter media stereotypes about inner city teens. How are they different from what you might expect?

  • Does your high school offer anything like the NFTE Business Education program? If not, would there be benefits to starting one?

Movie details

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