The Case Against 8

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Case Against 8 Movie Poster Image
Compelling documentary on legal fight for same-sex marriage.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 112 minutes

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Kids say

age 13+
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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie promotes equality and the importance of fighting hard for what you believe.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The people featured in the film are indefatigable, committed, and determined, fighting battles both legal and personal to stick to what they believe in.


Some of the featured folks face very strong hostility.


Very brief kisses.


One person says "s--t" during an interview. Some sequences feature homosexual slurs, inluding "dyke" and "homo."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Brief mentions of people drinking champagne to celebrate or drinking at the end of a difficult day.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Case Against 8 is a comprehensive documentary about the legal fight to overturn California's Proposition 8, a state initiative that defined marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. When it passed in 2008, it effectively nullified all the marriages between same-sex partners in the state and barred new ones. Gay and lesbian advocates immediately began planning a legal campaign against the new law, and this film shows the behind-the-scenes planning and maneuvering that took the issue all the way to the Supreme Court. There's some brief swearing (including "s--t") and scenes that include homosexual slurs.

User Reviews

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Kid, 8 years old June 13, 2015

Mature drama deals with mature themes and swearing.

My rating:PG-13 for mature content, and language.

What's the story?

In November 2008, as voters elected Barack Obama to the presidency, California also passed Proposition 8, a law that eliminated same-sex couples' right to get married. Opponents of the law began planning a legal campaign to overturn it almost immediately. Enter THE CASE AGAINST 8, a documentary that goes behind the scenes of the case, which finally ended up in the Supreme Court. Spearheading the fight is the unlikely duo of Ted Olson and David Boies, two attorneys best known for opposing each other in the case that decided the 2000 presidential election, Bush v. Gore.

Is it any good?

This film makes a very thorny issue very approachable at a level that teens and even some older tweens should be able to grasp, humanizing a debate that may seem remote to some viewers. It's one of the rare films that manages to be simultaneously important, entertaining, and educational.

Proposition 8 was a significant ballot initiative, in part because it led to vehement opposition that ended up with a Supreme Court ruling that opened to door to same-sex marriage around the country. The Case Against 8 is an up-close, step-by-step examination of a complicated case; it allows viewers to follow the legalities and strategies used to put forward the plaintiffs' overall message: that marriage equality should be about love. The film shows what daily life is like for a gay couple and how they've been affected by being unable to marry. It also reveals how being at the center of a lengthy, high-profile lawsuit can upend your home.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Case Against 8 presents its arguments. Do you agree? Should documentaries always be completely objective?

  • What do you think about the legal strategies used to overturn Proposition 8? Do you think a different strategy might have had a different result?

Movie details

  • In theaters: June 6, 2014
  • On DVD or streaming: January 6, 2015
  • Directors: Ben Cotner, Ryan White
  • Studio: HBO
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Topics: History
  • Run time: 112 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
  • Last updated: March 13, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love true stories and politics

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