Prayer Focus
Movie Review

8 Mile

MPAA Rating: R for strong language, sexuality, some violence and drug use

Reviewed by: Richard F. Schmitz
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Young Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
1 hr. 51 min.
Year of Release:
2002
Relevant Issues
Eminem in “8 Mile”

Starring: Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer, Eugene Byrd | Directed by: Curtis Hanson | Produced by: Curtis Hanson, Brian Grazer, Jimmy Iovine | Written by: Scott Silver | Distributor: Universal Pictures

In the new Eminem vehicle “8 Mile”, broken relationships are sometimes patched over with a used car. Makes sense, I guess, considering “8 Mile” is set in Detroit. What doesn’t make sense, however, is the underlying point of this movie: freestyle rapping, which amounts to viciously insulting someone at random, in rhyme, in front of a crowd after a DJ makes odd noises with vinyl on a turntable. Why is this done, and to what purpose? This more fundamental question is not addressed in “8 Mile”.

As a Christian parent of teenage daughters, I was at first happy to hear that our small town’s movie theater wasn’t going to show the film. But the theater did show “8 Mile”, and in a moment of weakness I allowed my kids to attend. I watched as well.

Truth be told, there were aspects of “8 Mile” that were likeable and well-crafted. The characters, led by Eminem, strive for something more than the hip hop stereotype, and are at times multidimensional. Some scenes of the film are impressive, particularly the final scene, a rap showdown between Eminem and his enemies in a dark, crowded nightclub.

At first, the film seems headed in the direction of “Rocky”: the gritty urban underdog seeking respect and success in a violent milieu. But “8 Mile” never achieves Rocky’s sense of purpose or satisfaction. In fact, in some places “8 Mile” seems to bog down. We know where it’s heading, but it seems to take a long time to get there, and besides, the place that its going to isn’t much of an improvement over where it starts.

The cast is fine, but Kim Basinger is completely over the top as Eminem’s trailer trash mom. She’s just not believable.

From a moral standpoint, “8 Mile” is no worse than most of what Hollywood has to offer. There’s no particularly graphic violence to speak of. And there is no direct anti-Christian message, such as is found in, say, “Pleasantville”. One character expresses interest in a relationship with Christ, making the point that doing so will make him a better person. Another character is altruistic in a more secular way. And Eminem is cast as a basic decent human being—even tenderhearted at times.

But Eminem also has no problem dumping a girlfriend when he discovers she’s pregnant (he gives her a car), and he has no problem having sex (in an extremely graphic minute or two scene) with a woman he’s known for about 15 minutes. As for language, “8 Mile” is basically one continuous “F” word.

A few months ago, I caught a Bill Moyers special on PBS, and I thought of it as I watched “8 Mile”. It tracked an inner city African-American family dealing with job loss and violence and other gritty, urban ills. Instead of rapping vile insults, the dad worked two jobs, the second as a lay preacher at a small church. The mom sold real estate from a small rented office. The kids worked after school. Love, family and faith in God lifted this family through failure and success. It’s too bad Hollywood won’t focus on these folks, and lift them up as role models to teens and young adults, instead of the self-loathing, defeatist and degenerate Hip Hop culture.

“8 Mile” offers parents an opportunity for serious conversation with teens. It did me, at least. Other than that, there is little good in this movie, and it certainly should not be seen by anyone under 18.

Viewer Comments
Negative—After seeing this movie with my girlfriend, we both wondered why we didn’t walk out of it, the movie is filled with expletives, sexual situations, and some glorification of drug use. Any Christian who tries to justify watching this as “real life” is only fooling themself. Christians do not need to subject themselves to things that are not of God, we are supposed to focus on God. Situations will arise in the real world that are not good, but we don’t need to pay 7 dollars to go watch it. This movie was disappointing, because it had such potential, and it was ruined by sexual content and over the top profanity.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 3]
—Zack, age 18
Positive—Although parts of this movie may be offensive to some, I feel that nothing was glorified. Everything that was presented had its consequences and Eminem provides us with a beautiful depiction of a young man (named Jimmy Smith Jr.) struggling with his broken family structure to make it on his own. He has surrounded himself with a motley crew, that while they are vulgar, crude and sometimes violent—are in the end more caring and loving than Jimmy’s real family.

They show support for him when he needs it, and back off when he asks them to. It is a beautiful story of hope and overcoming obstacles. I recommend this movie to anyone over 16, and to those younger that are mature enough to handle extreme profanity and adult subjects. On a side note, the cinematography in this movie is stunning, I haven’t seen anything this beautiful since David Lynch’s “Elephant Man.”
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Colin Lenton, age 18
Positive—… I rate the movie “good” but, yes, there is much in the movie that could be taken as offensive… I watched 8 mile to study and learn more about our culture. I found so many positive teaching tools in this movie that I can use to minister to young adults. Yes, there was sex, foulness, and all that other worldly stuff. So What! That’s life. Jesus hung around the sinners to minister.

If I am going to minister to people who are searching for the answers to life, what better way than to use the very media that penetrates their lives on a daily basis. People, we need to open up our minds and think. To be honest with you, parts of 8 mile inspired me, and parts of it made me feel sick. So we want to tell the world that Eminem is foul, obscene, nasty, violent, bla, bla, bla. What would you say to eminem if you had a chance to meet with. Would you give him one more reason to turn away from God or would you be able to engage in meaningful conversation…
My Ratings: [4]
—John Brand, age 25
Neutral—There is a lot of language, sex, and harshness. But, you could not tell this story without it. The storyline is great. This movie keeps your attention, and gives you a new perspective on the way a lot of people live their lives. Will you find your pastor in the audience… probably not, but it’s a real wake up call to how rough this world is. Sometimes we need to see how “real” people live. I would NOT recommend this movie to most Christians, but if you’re looking for a dose of reality… here it is at its finest.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
—Adam Detamore, age 22
Positive—This is one of the best movies I have seen in a very long time. I went back 3 times. While there are a lot of vulgarities, and 3 sex scenes, this movie really portrays what life is like in some parts of the world. I think instead of looking at this movie and saying how offensive it is, look at it in Rabbit’s point of view. If it’s all he knows, how can you blame him? Don’t shoot off at the mouth saying how bad the movie was, admire Eminem for crossing over into the big screen world and making it. This movie in the first weekend pulled in over 54.5 million dollars. That means its the second highest watched movie. The first was Hannibal.

I admire Eminem for all his success and his genious lyrics of his songs, no matter how disturbing they are. The man has a God-given talent, if we’d like to acknowledge that or not. I would recommend this movie to anyone who can look beyond the cultural genre of this movie and see it for the true meaning of the movie. We can do whatever we want. It’s just who do we want to help us get there.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 5]
—Josh, age 19
Positive—There is nothing in this movie that is not reality… sometimes we forget that there are real problems in the world and we sometimes act like they aren’t really happening. this was a great movie which told a good story.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—M Jenkins, age 18
Positive—As a Christian, I found this movie to be exactly what Christian critics have said it is. It is full of profanity, sex, violence, etc. However, the movie depicts life as it really is along the 8 Mile in Detroit, and we are only fooling ourselves if we want to go through life pretending that such living conditions don’t exist. One can walk out of a theater disgusted at the profanity, but how does one walk out of Detroit disgusted at the profanity? If someone is going to make a movie about real life along the 8 Mile, the idea that the finished product should somehow be “sanitized” for Christians is absurd. I don’t believe in “sheltered and overprotected” Christians.

I’m sure that when Jesus mingled with sinners he didn’t find them suddenly refraining from sin while they were in His presence. 8 Mile the movie is as close to 8 Mile the reality as most of us will ever get. Want to live in a bubble the rest of your life and ignore other peoples’ difficult lives? Avoid this movie. Want to stop living in La-la land and see how rough it is for people who don’t have two fine, upstanding Christian parents and who have to grow up on the mean streets of modern-day Detroit? Watch this movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Edward N Drake, age 31
Negative—… I walked out completely disgusted. HUGE amounts of profanity. Drug use. Drive by paintball attacks on public property—even on a police car. Beatings. And GRAPHIC sex scenes. Rapper Eminem plays “Rabbit” in this movie. He’s participates in a MC contest but chokes up and fails, must to his embarrasment. His life is more or less falling apart, and he moves back in with his mother (and he live in boyfriend) and younger sister. He begins to try to make a better life for himself. This is a biographical movie. I do not recommend this movie to anyone, Christians or not. I was extremely disappointed. One of the characters comments that he’s trying to get himself straight with the Lord, which is great, but then 2 minutes later he says “It’s Saturday, I can get right with the Lord on Sunday.” That is completely not true. A walk with the Lord is everyday, not just Sunday.

At another point a character asks another character on a date, and then, just a few moments later, they are engaging in a fairly graphic sex scene. My recommendation: Just don’t. It’s not worth your time or money. This movie earned every single bit of its R rating.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 3]
—Quinn Reil
Negative—As a Christian, I am disappointed in myself for having seen this film. It in no way honored the Lord. While it is a true portrayal of hard life, most of it was unnecessary and impure. The extreme language, graphic sexuality, and general negativity are things I am going to strive to stay clear of. Christ was not lifted up at all, and I in watching this movie, did not further my walk at all. It only hindered.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 3½]
—Amanda Sinnock, age 20
Positive—First of all, I have to say that I have somewhat become an Eminem fan, over the last few weeks. In preparation for the film, which was loosely based on his life, I wanted to delve into his music a little. Some of his stuff is great. Some of it is horendous. But there is much more positive. I really liked “8 Mile.” It’s about time a musician made a good leap to film. This movie is not the typical “success story” that we’ve seen a million times. It breaks new ground, goes its own route (which also may speak to one of its theme).

One of its best attributes is that director Curtis Hanson didn’t throw in a bunch of Eminem music. Remember “Crossroads,” when the Britney Spears character just happens to have written the Britney Spears newest hit single? That doesn’t fly in this movie. It isn’t about flaunting Eminem to us, why would it be? He’s never needed a film before to flaunt his image. That’s why he raps. No, “8 Mile” stays within its story, depending on the many wonderful performances and characters to drive the movie. Eminem was very good in his debut. If you think he is a horrid, offensive person, well, not here he isn’t. Perhaps this is yet another level to the persona we call Eminem. He doesn’t want his music to always be taken serious, either. Perhaps he wanted to show us that we could care about him, that he is every bit as capable of affectionate emotions as anyone else. Now, as far as content, there is a somewhat graphic sex scene. No nudity is shown, but there is a lot of movement and sounds.

As for the language, as it turns out, I REALLY didn’t notice much at all. You almost just understand that, “Yes, this is how this culture talks,” and it was never really a problem for me. There is some violence, sure, fist fights. All of the actors did wonderful jobs, and I again found myself thinking, “You know, love him or hate him, Eminem has a lot of talent.”
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Jason Eaken, age 19
Comments from young people
Neutral—This movie is very much what the real world is like. For the many christians that shelter themselves from the offensive reality of living in a place such as downtown detroit, I would not recommend this… It is necessary for us to recognize that yes what the characters in the movie are doing is wrong, but then to move on and look deeper into the story line. The story is overall a good story about forgiveness, taking care of family, and doing things for yourself. While little kids SHOULD NOT go and see this, I would recommend it to any mature teenager or adult who is strong in their faith and won’t let this movie hinder them.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4½]
—Sharon, age 16
Neutral—This movie does have a lot of language, including the use of the “f-word” a LOT, and a few sex scenes. It definitely isn’t for little kids. It does show though that if you believe in something enough that you can do it. It isn’t a very good movie at all morally, and I definitely don’t recommend to people under 14 or so.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 5]
—Nadia, age 15
Movie Critics
…If extreme profanity, steamy sex scenes, and the use of an English so fractured that it often becomes indecipherable is in anyway offensive to you, ‘8 Mile’ might describe the distance you’d want to keep from Eminem’s film debut…
—Michael Elliott, Movie Parables
…at least 200 “f” words… Sexually explicit dialogue is present, as are three sexual encounters (that include movement, partial nudity and/or related sounds)…
—ScreenIt!
…sluggish, plodding story… a crass exercise in manipulation…
—Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic
…A star is born in ‘8 Mile,’ all right, but his name is Mekhi Phifer…
—Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun