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207 out of 227 people found the following review useful:

A Quality Piece of Hard-Hitting Naturalism

8/10
Author: PeteBDawg from USA
9 November 2002

8 Mile probably isn't what you expect. Given the cast and premise, you probably expect one of two things, either a silly excuse for self-aggrandizement or an overblown caricature of hip-hop culture. You don't get either. What you get is a brave film that is surprisingly culturally and intellectually rigorous and an aggressive film that is so emotionally intense that it seems to sometimes tear itself apart.

The plot is not a biography of Martial Mathers, a.k.a. Eminem, but it is very much informed and guided by the experiences of his early career as a rapper in blue-collar and no-collar Detroit. Eminem gives a compelled, powerful performance that diverges just enough from his public self to inject the story with a strong sense of realism without sacrificing anything artistically. The supporting cast also makes fine use of their considerable talents, carving the Detroit of this film out of the world itself, not out of fiction. Even as they help communicate a hard, unforgiving time and place, they also give rise to deep and profound sympathies that don't come around in every film.

The naturalistic presentation doesn't stop there; most of the film is shot on location in Detroit, and the gritty, sometimes almost frenzied design and cinematography firmly establish that this is not just another Hollywood movie. This is a movie that goes places movies don't generally go where, for good or for ill, many people do live every day. For one, 8 Mile might have the most believable, most powerful representation of an automobile factory of any film in the last twenty years, and it still manages to use the location for sophisticated, plot driving drama. Good stuff.

Of course, the film has its flaws. It's very heavy and bleak, at times it skirts the boundary of cliche a little bit, and the villains, a rival rap group known as the "Free World," are a little over the top, but, time and again, the solid acting and daunting camerawork keep coming back to seize the eye and command attention.

Oh, and, in case you were wondering, there is rapping, and plenty of it. The rapping is really top-quality, cutting edge stuff, for the most part, and it is integrated into the script so well that it is always clear that the characters choose to rap, not that the script forces them to do so. The rapping happens because it must happen to these characters at this time, not because Eminem is a rapper. In an industry where pop music movies are a dime a dozen, this is particularly impressive. This film says something about rap and the human experience that hasn't been articulated this well many times before; it bridges the gap between rap and poetry in a big way, and makes that gap look a lot smaller.

All in all, the thing that really defines 8 Mile is how committed to this idea the cast and crew must have been in order to make this film. Every minute and every second, the cast's intensity never gives up, and the camera never sleeps. The film is detailed, finely crafted, and has a pounding heart the size of a boxcar. If you don't mind the obscenity and violence (and there is a bunch), I'd definitely say this is a movie worth seeing.

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154 out of 168 people found the following review useful:

So, rappers CAN be actors...?

8/10
Author: MissMill from Denmark
28 November 2005

I was afraid of this movie. For a long time I feared that one day, Eminem WOULD make a movie - and that movie would suck!!!!

Along it came, and you know what? It didn't suck. Man, was I relieved.

I have never been able to put a finger on Mr. Mathers' rapping skills, I think his technique is amazing. His rhymes are sharp and intelligent and he always performs them with pure justification. But could he take this to the big screen? He succeeded. In his debut movie he managed to play it real and natural. He had good on screen chemistry with pretty much all the characters, but especially with Brittany Murphy (Uh, gotta love that sex scene... That was hot.)

The final battles in the movie, are the absolute climax. If you ever had any doubts about Eminmems talents - one way or the other - you definitely know his worth now!

- Some might say that it must be easy to play yourself, and it's not a secret that this movie is somewhat autobiographic. But it sure takes guts to put yourself out there like that, well done.

So 8/10

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175 out of 228 people found the following review useful:

A warm reception for Eminem fans everywhere

10/10
Author: dee.reid from United States
9 November 2002

"8 Mile" is the new film that features controversial rapper Eminem in his first starring role. The film itself is loosely based on his life growing up in Detroit. Eminem plays Jimmy Smith, Jr. a.k.a. "Rabbit", a young man who is struggling to make things better for himself through "battles", which are freestyling rap contests that are usually held at a local nightclub. Rabbit chokes when it is his turn to take the microphone for the first time. His best friend, Future (Mekhi Phifer) is the host of these battles and strongly believes Rabbit has potential, but the problem is that Future often makes his decisions before consulting with Rabbit first. Rabbit's home life is not much better. He's broke, has no place to live, he's stuck in a dead-end job at a steel mill, and his girlfriend Janeane (Taryn Manning) has fooled him into thinking that she is pregnant. Rabbit's mother (Kim Basinger), is on the verge of being evicted from her home and is slutting around with a man who is about the same age as her son. Things in Rabbit's life take a turn for the better when he later falls in love with Alex (Brittany Murphy), an aspiring young woman who dreams of becoming a model and moving to New York to start life a new.

"8 Mile" certainly is a moving and very touching drama. Eminem proves here that he really can act and in fact may have a future in motion pictures. This does not mean we will be hearing him thanking his producer Paul Rosenberg next year at the Oscars, but we can expect to him to receive a lot of praise for future movie roles. It's quite obvious that some people will not like "8 Mile", just because of Eminem's controversial history. The film also has one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a long time. Eminem's hit single "Lose Yourself" really does have a lot emotion put into it.

Eminem, since he burst onto the music scene in 1999 with his critically-acclaimed/lambasted album "The Slim Shady LP", he has been met with a lot of controversy, as well as praise. Despite the often humorous content of his songs, there are many dark under tones in them as well. In my opinion, too much has been made about his lyrics, most of which revolve around topics like homophobia, murder, and his failed relationship with his on/off wife, Kim. Despite all of this, I think that people have overlooked the fact that he said the only thing that truly matters to him is his daughter, Hailie Jade. Also, if people believed Eminem really was a homophobic, do you still think he would have agreed to perform "Stan" with Elton John?

As a longtime fan of Eminem and his music, I try not to let such criticisms get to me, but sometimes you just have to say "What the hell? Are they really necessary?" I don't think so. The problem is that people today are just too biased when it comes to people like Eminem. He's not another Vanilla Ice and "8 Mile" is not an attempt to cash in on his success like "Cool As Ice" was.

I have a list of grievances that people need to realize about Eminem:

- First of all, do not disrespect this man. I feel that many of the people who hate Eminem have never actually listened to one of his songs. In my opinion, they have only listened to small clips that have been played on some discussion about his controversial lyrics. If you actually listened to some of his songs, you'll realize that he is a very distraught young person with a lot to say.

- Don't watch "8 Mile" with a predetermined mindset. People who have already made up their minds about Eminem's talents are less likely to enjoy themselves much more than people who believe in him.

- To non-believers, if Eminem really did not have any talent, like so many people seem to think now, how is it that all of his records: "The Slim Shady LP", "The Marshall Mathers LP", "Devils Night" (with group D-12) and "The Eminem Show" together have grossed more than $12 million? I think that it is a clear sign of TRUE TALENT.

- Also do you believe had Eminem been black and rapping about such "controversial" subject matter, that he would be famous like he is now? No, because most likely no one would dare even produce him. That said, I'm African-American and I don't care that Eminem is white and is rapping about such things.

- I think that too many people have made his race too big of an issue. Eminem knows that he is white and will be nothing else. He does not display to us a "thuggish" image that some people think that any rapper should have. Also, he does not rap about the things that some people seem to think is destroying rap music.

Eminem does have quite a future in store for him. I'm sure that we can expect to be seeing a lot more of him later on.

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105 out of 127 people found the following review useful:

Powerful silences

Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California
11 November 2002

Those who are saying `8 Mile' shows a vanilla-ed Eminem may have a point: this movie introduces him to a non-rap audience just as `Wild Style' introduced us to hip-hop. But those who say Eminem is sanitized here for mall viewing have an odd notion of language. Perhaps his CD's contain more inflammatory material than is aired in this movie, but what gets said here is most definitely not for any suburban grandmothers who aren't stone deaf.

It's surprising - admirable, really - how well Curtis Hansen and his crew keep track of the plot from scene to scene when not much of it seems to matter other than Rabbit's problems with his mother, Stephanie Smith -- Kim Basinger. Bassinger is a blue ribbon southern white trash trailor park mom. You can't help feeling that with minor tweaking she could be the mother of a Grosse Pointe prep school boy, a lady whose problem was overspending instead of imminent eviction from a stinky trailor. Bassinger makes trashiness look attractive, just as she made movie star decay attractive when Hansen directed her in `L.A. Confidential' six years ago. Rabbit's problems with girlfriends aren't significant, though he has two of them, an ex and a new one. Both are delicious but primed for rejection. Rabbit's closest relationships are with his emcee pal `Future' (played by an utterly charming and huggable Mikhi Pfifer) and his slightly retarded token white homie, Cheddar Bob (Evan Jones).

But his closest relationship of all is with himself, as is clear from the first scene, where Eminem is doing rap gestures in the competition shed men's room, looking in the mirror, hearing his music in his head --and this is fine, because it's what a young man has to do: get on friendly working terms with who he is. The movie is about his going off to be on his own and give up his rowdy playmates to become a winner, and he walks off by himself in the final scene. The comparison with Shakespeare's Henry IV isn't out of place. The Shakespearean parallel was used explicitly for Keanu Reeves' character in `My Own Private Idaho' but the theme is really more central here. Eminem isn't a cold personality like Keanu Reeves in Van Sant's movie. He is close to his mates and they're always touching hands and gently hugging each other. The hands and the hugs are one of the main images that stay with you after seeing `8 Mile.'

Eminem as shown in `8 Mile' isn't totally motivated by his anger at all. His anger is very contained. He seems able to turn it on and off at will and release it only when he needs it -- to trounce rap competition or throw out his mom's sleazy boyfriend. It's his ability to control his anger that makes both Rabbit and Eminem winners.

Eminem does have an authenticity about him that makes for a strong presence on screen. Paradoxically he projects a powerful inwardness, so that his turning away from everybody makes his face jump out at us. His effect is of authenticity, because he doesn't put on a reaction to please the audience or suit the scene, but he is always there, moving with the scene and in fact creating it.

`8 Mile' isn't just a vehicle for Eminem. It's too well made a movie to be that. But without Eminem `8 Mile' wouldn't exist. The only importance of the rapping contests emceed by `Future' is that first Rabbit shies away from them, and then he enters them and wins them. You have to wonder how the rapper/actors feel who are in the movie only to be put down by Eminem.

`8 Mile' cannot escape from the limitations of the fictionalized star biopic. There have been dozens of movies about emerging music stars and their families, their early sponsors, their first big breaks, and so on, many of them with more range and specificity of detail than this one. This movie only takes its hero to the moment when he walks away, having shown that he can be a star. The whole focus is on his personality, and in particular his stillness. The most important moments are those when Rabbit/Eminem stands with mike in hand, silent, waiting for inspiration to strike. Even when he choses not to compete and hands the mike back, this moment is full of power. In this movie Eminem carries the expression of sheer imminence, raw potential, to a new level of clarity and confidence.

This rapper is good just standing there.

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60 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

Dark but interesting

Author: Chuckles11 from Virginia, USA
8 November 2002

I enjoyed this movie immensely. I thought it was a departure from the typical movies that star Hip-hop artists nowadays, which typically glorify the hip-hop lifestyle. Which is a very material lifestyle. This movie was pretty dark.

I thought Eminem did a good job acting. I mean he's not going to win any Oscars for this role, but he does a very good job acting. If not for who he is, then you wouldn't pay too much attention to his acting because that's how competent he does.

As most of you already have heard, this movie was based on Eminem's life, but none of the events are actually factual. His relationship with his mother (Basinger) is much more amiable than it is in real life, or at least how it comes across in his music.

Brittany Murphy acts as his love interest, but most importantly his muse.

There are some scenes that leave you scratching your head. One of which is the Eminem-Murphy love scene in the plant. It seems out of place and bad for the pacing of the film. Also Taryn Manning's role as the ex-girlfriend is almost unnecessary. The presence of her character is a key plot element that sets up the film, but the appearance of her character in the film by its end seems unnecessary due to the fact that it is underdeveloped. I wonder if there were more scenes involving Manning that were ultimately deleted via editing.

Overall I enjoyed the movie. Some may not enjoy it as much, but that's probably because they go into the movie with different expectations. If you're expecting something other than a hip-hop based film that subtly comments on social/economic/racial issues, and is a pseudo-rags to riches story, then you might be sorely disappointed.

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76 out of 117 people found the following review useful:

Good, but nowhere near perfect

7/10
Author: Tyson Redmond from Santa Monica, Ca
26 November 2002

8 Mile tells the story of a white kid on the wrong side of the tracks living in Detroit with a dead end job and a trailer park mom. Deep inside, he aspires to break free from the chains of the reality of his life through the poetry and passion and rawness of rap; the one place he can possibly gain a feeling of purpose and hear his own voice. Obviously, it's no big secret that this storyline runs very parallel to that of of Eminem's own roots and his own aspirations. Where fiction and reality collide is blurred and that works for the picture. First off, I think Curtis Hanson did a great job rebuilding that world and protecting his novice lead. He understood the material and I was drawn in to the world that he recreated. Also, the cinematography widely lends itself towards upping the ante of the picture and making you feel the authenticity of a world and a place where many of us have never traveled nor never will. As for Eminem himself, at first I found him a little stoic, but given the fact that this guy has never acted before, regardless of how 'autobiographical' the material may be, I thought he did a decent job in front of the camera. Hanson was wise to protect his lead with awesome supporting work from Mekhi Phifer and pretty much everyone else that portrays his friends and peers in the film. Eminem obviously was a little green and surrounding him with these actors gave the movie and Eminem's journey more credence. Brittany Murphy was also very good, but I found her character to be a bit expedient. She definitely was not used to her full potential and I felt that if they had used her relationship with Rabbit to a larger or deeper extent, it only would have lent more to the film. One of the scenes I was most impressed with was the sex scene between Murphy and Eminem. Gone were the Hollywood antics of glossing it up or ghetto fabulous and I felt that Hanson captured something that was fascinating, uncomfortable and realistic that I haven't seen in a Hollywood film before.

Now for what I feel made this movie not rise to the top... First off, when Kim Basinger first came on the screen and opened her mouth, I thought the rest of the film was going to be destined for failure. Not only was she weak in the role, she was grossly miscast. There are so many actresses in that age range that I find it mind boggling that Basinger was used for something in which she stood out like a fish out of water. The film also almost lost me in the beginning due to the length of the first scene in the bathroom when Eminem is psyching himself up. The placement of the scene wasn't a problem but it went on way too long - I would have prepared an edited down version. If you're watching Robert DeNiro for that long looking in a mirror, yes, it'll probably work, but to put that type of pressure on a first timer with no training, especially since it's shortly followed by Basinger's first scene was a risky move and one that I think they could have found a better choice for. The other thing that kept this film from being a totally strong film for me was the screenplay itself. I kept finding myself asking why the hell Scott Silver had some of these extraneous scenes in the story. There was a good story to be told here and a whole world to be explored by the general public that doesn't know that much of it, and the script and film could have and should have been a good 25 minutes shorter and tighter.

Anyway, still an intriguing film. And interesting insight into a different side of life and I commend Eminem for taking the risk. It's a lot to bite off and half the country is just dying for a chance to decimate him. If for nothing else, this film is worth the last 5 minutes. When he was up there battling, I actually started clapping and cheering out loud in the theater - no matter where he stands as an actor, when he's in his domain, he is fantastic, whether you like what he's saying or not.

A 7 out of 10 for a movie that was actually worth spending a budget on. Not perfect, but definitely it's own thing with some good moments. And when they're good, they're really good.

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64 out of 94 people found the following review useful:

Excellent Drama

9/10
Author: Showtime840 from USA
11 November 2002

I don't care for too many dramas, but "8 mile" was an excellent movie. Eminem was a better actor than I could have dreamed for him to be. He put on a great show, and kept me interested throughout the entire movie. Mekhi Phifer did an excellent job and is definitely a rising star in Hollywood. Brittany Murphy could have done a better job, but I didn't like her character development at all. It seems that she flip flops around so much that in the end you really don't know which side she truly plays. Kim Basinger did a good job. I don't watch too many of her movies. The last movie I saw of hers' was "Bless the Child" and that was a major let down.

As for the plot, don't go into the movie thinking that you're going to see the life of Eminem. This is not about Eminem's life. Eminem said it himself in an interview. Mekhi Phifer even said that he didn't want to do the movie because he thought it was about Eminem's life and that Hollywood was just trying to take advantage of a rising star, but this isn't the case. This is just as any other movie, but this is Eminem's acting debut. Even though there are certain things in the movie that relate to Eminem's life (ex. 8 Mile Road,) this is certainly NOT an autobiography.

If you go into "8 mile" expecting to see an action film with explosions and such then you're in for a let down. "8 Mile" is an amazing story about a white wannabe rapper trying to make it in the underground world of rapping. There isn't much action in this at all because it is a DRAMA, not an action. I hope you go see this movie if your in for a good story with some great characters!

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49 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

8 Mile will have potent impact on America's youth.

8/10
Author: malikona from Frankfort, Kentucky (USA)
10 November 2002

It is rare that an established filmmaker and production company create something that young people are able to grasp the complete meaning of. Intellectual jargon or unnecessary vagueness of plot often take precedence over lucidity and appeal.

Eminem's "8 Mile" has managed to break this cycle, presenting in poignant audio/video style the nature of the life so many of our nation's youth live, and how despite it all there always remains the possibility to break through.

The film's meaning is largely overt, not subtle, and makes itself available to a much wider variety of viewers than most films with any sort of dramatic moral. Just look at the box office reports for "8 Mile"s opening weekend.

I won't attempt to speculate on the effect the film will have among our youth, but I personally believe it will be positive in nature. It will be impossible for this film to become as transient as an action blockbuster or as esoteric as a cult classic. It's depth and range of appeal are simply unparalleled in our time.

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52 out of 78 people found the following review useful:

Director Curtis Hanson's best film. That's right his best!!!

Author: celaw21 from muncie, IN
9 November 2002

When I first heard that Curtis Hanson, the director of LA CONFIDENTIAL, was set to direct a movie semi-based around the life of white rapper Eminem my first reaction was what? That's weird! I didn't think it was bad but it just seemed very strange and like the last thing Hanson would get his big foot stuck in. I'm not a big fan of rap anymore but I was growing up. However, I do like Eminem. Love him or hate him his talent is evident. In my lifetime I believe that I have seen three great talents in rap and they are Tupac, Biggie and Eminem. Still, I couldn't believe that a director of Hanson's caliber would direct an Eminem movie. I couldn't but now I can. 8 MILE is kind of like ROCKY with freestyle battles instead of boxing. It's an underdog story. I thought from the trailer that I would know somewhat how the film would play out but I was wrong. I didn't. The film really avoids pretension and cliché. Hanson effectively guides us through Detroit's rap underground, a place that's a foreign land too most.

Now, I don't expect everyone to love 8 MILE, but I think there are a lot of people out there who'd be surprised if they give the film a shot. I know there's a lot of anti-Eminem people out there and rightly so. I can see why you would hate the man but I don't. However, love him or hate him he delivers a heart felt performance here. The story, like I said above, is an underdog story. The relationship between Rabbit (Eminem) and his little sister gives a perfect balance to his wild nightlife, his crappy day job and his constant battles with his mom (Kim Basinger) and her boyfriend.

As I finish up here I'll say that 8 MILE isn't the best film of all time but it is very, very good. I was entertained throughout the entire film. It IS one of the best films I've see this year and that is a major accomplishment in a year that I consider to have many great films (see SIGNS, THE FOUR FEATHERS, and ROAD TO PERDITION). Well, I gotta go cause `I've been at this plant so long I'm a plant. Look at my boots their startin' to grow roots!' See the movie, you'll get it.

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41 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

Not a great story – but has good moments and a good central performance

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
28 January 2003

Jimmy Rabbit is a white kid on the poor (black) side of town. Growing up with this influence he has developed rapping skills but is too intimidated to showcase in the cruel `Shelter' battles. Split from his girlfriend, Jimmy returns to his Mum's trailer park home and her young boyfriend. He keeps his job in a pressing shop while working on his rhymes and trying to work out who, out of all the hopes and promises, will be able to help him work his way out of Detroit.

After missing preview screenings and not being able to go when friends went, I eventually saw this a few nights ago. I was maybe better prepared by this point because the hype had been watered down by a few bad or balanced reviews of the film in the media. This helped me lower my expectations so that I wasn't let down. The plot is, well, difficult to describe because there isn't really one narrative to speak of, rather it is Rabbit's story. As a result it is a little rambling with things just drifting through the film. However that it still works is to it's credit. The film holds the attention and the story still has enough in it to follow it.

The telling is what does it the best I think. The direction is good, with washed out cameras not willing to glamorise anything. The biggest smart move was the liberal use of hip-hop through the film. Occasionally we get a beat of a song but it isn't wall to wall music like many rapper's films. Even where a Eminem track is played, Em's voice is limited to a few broken up words – saving his skills for the climax. Some of the film doesn't work – I got tired of several rap scenes in everyday situations and it didn't grasp me as reality (although in fairness I don't know if this is the norm in some lives). Also there are a few too many scenes of meaningless violence that didn't come across as normal life for Rabbit but instead felt like the film trying to show Rabbit to be tough and ready for action.

It is difficult to write a fair review after seeing the climax – which his why I left it a few days before writing this. The climax is a series of short battles in the Shelter that are pumping and exciting. Not to spoil it but some of the rapper's lines are cool – until Em takes his turns and rips the place down. It was so funny and funky that I wished that he had made some of his own joints that sharp in his recent Benzino disses. This is where he shines in the role but he also does well generally – maybe not worthy of an Oscar nomination but certainly very good. He makes his character likeable but not easily, and he avoids being a sympathy figure.

Phieffer is not as good and didn't convince me as well as I've seen him do. He can act but here he is not really a good character. The support cast are all pretty good and are believable and only a few are clear stereotypical groups. Happily the usual rapper cameos are minimal and not in your face too much. There may be more but I only spotted Xhibit and Obi Trise and neither of them took anything away by their presence. Murphy is pretty good – sexy yet trashy – but her character and her sub-plot didn't really have anywhere to go and just became another part of the wandering story. Basinger is OK but she isn't as bad as I expected her to be (or felt she needed to be). She didn't need to be like his Mum in the songs, but a little less `victim of circumstance' would have helped buy into it.

The message is worthy but heavily made and the story part of the film just didn't totally come off for me – instead it was a bit ordinary and not well written. However the telling makes it worth seeing – the direction is pretty good and the liberal use of music is one of the many good touches, meanwhile Eminem ensures that it is always worth watching – whether doing witty disses in a car park, ripping the opposition in a battle or just being understated in a good role. Understated! Now there's a thing I thought I'd never say again about a rapper in a lead role of a film since Pac died!

Like him or loathe him, Eminem prevents an average (at best) story being unwatchable by the sheer strength of his presence. However those who aren't fans of hip-hop or Eminem may wish to avoid this, as there ain't too much else on offer.

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