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8 Mile (film)


8 Mile (film)

8 Mile
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Curtis Hanson
Produced by Curtis Hanson
Brian Grazer
Jimmy Iovine
Written by Scott Silver
Starring Eminem
Kim Basinger
Brittany Murphy
Mekhi Phifer
Music by Various Artists
Cinematography Rodrigo Prieto
Edited by Jay Rabinowitz
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • November 8, 2002 (2002-11-08)
Running time 110 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $41 million[2]
Box office $242,875,078[2]

8 Mile is a 2002 American hip-hop biopic film written by Scott Silver, directed by Curtis Hanson, and starring Eminem, Mekhi Phifer, Brittany Murphy, Michael Shannon and Kim Basinger.

The film is an account of a young white rapper named Jimmy "B-Rabbit" Smith Jr. (Eminem) living in inner city Detroit, Michigan set in 1995, and his attempt to launch a rap career in a genre dominated by African Americans. The film's title is derived from 8 Mile Road, the highway that runs along the border between Detroit and its upper-class suburbs.

Filmed mostly on location in Detroit and its surrounding areas, the film was a critical and financial success. Eminem won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Lose Yourself", the song which was iconic to this film. A decade after its release, Vibe magazine called the film a "hip-hop movie masterpiece."[3]


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Reception 3
    • Critical reception 3.1
    • Box office 3.2
    • Top lists 3.3
    • Awards 3.4
  • Music 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


In 1995 Detroit, Jimmy "B-Rabbit" Smith Jr. (Eminem), a young and unhappy blue-collar worker from a poor family, struggles with various aspects of his life. He has moved back north of 8 Mile Road to the rundown trailer home in Warren, Michigan of his alcoholic mother, Stephanie (Kim Basinger), his little sister Lily (Chloe Greenfield), and Stephanie's abusive live-in boyfriend Greg (Michael Shannon). Although he is encouraged by his friends, who hail him as a talented rap music artist, Jimmy's future as a musician does not look promising, particularly due to his lack of confidence that caused him to panic during a rap battle one night at a club called The Shelter, and leaving the stage humiliated.

Jimmy works at an automotive factory, but when he asks for extra shifts, his supervisor dismisses his request on account of his habitual tardiness. When a woman named Alex shows up at the factory one day looking for her brother, she meets Jimmy, and they become friends. Jimmy comes to realize that his life has remained largely the same since high school. At first, he considers himself a victim of his circumstances and blames others for his problems. Over time, though, he begins to take more responsibility for the direction of his life. When he exhibits an improved attitude and performance at work, his supervisor grants him the extra shifts he requested.

Jimmy's friendship with Wink (Eugene Byrd), a radio station employee with ties to a record label prompter, becomes strained after he finds out he does promotional work for Jimmy's rivals, a gang of rappers known as the Leaders of the Free World. At one point, Jimmy and his friends get into a brawl with the Leaders, which is only broken when Jimmy's friend Cheddar Bob pulls out a gun and accidentally shoots himself in the leg, for which he is hospitalized and relegated to crutches.

When Jimmy shows up at work one day to see a rap battle in which Mike, one of his coworkers, insults Paul, who is gay, with his lyrics, Jimmy joins the battle to defend Paul by insulting Mike. Alex, who witnesses this, is impressed, and her relationship with Jimmy develops into a sexual one. Wink arranges for Jimmy to meet with producers at a recording studio, but when Jimmy goes there, he finds Wink and Alex having sex on top of a mixing console, he then beats up Wink which ends their friendship. Wink and the Leaders of the Free World subsequently attack Jimmy outside his mother's trailer and beat him badly. The leader of the gang, Papa Doc (Anthony Mackie), puts a gun to Jimmy's face, threatening to kill him before Wink convinces him not to.

Jimmy's best friend Future (Mekhi Phifer) puts pressure on him to get his revenge by competing against the Leaders of the Free World at the next rap battle. However, Jimmy's late-night shift conflicts with the next battle tournament. But a visit from Alex changes his mind about competing. Paul, the co-worker who Jimmy stood up for earlier in the film, agrees to cover for him and he participates in the battle.

In each of the three rounds of the battle, Jimmy is pitted against a different member of the Leaders. He wins both of the first two rounds, and in the last round, he is paired against Papa Doc. Jimmy is aware that Doc knows all his weak points, so he decides to address them preemptively with his lyrics. He acknowledges without shame his lower-class roots and the various humiliations the Leaders have inflicted on him, and then uses the difficult life he has had as a springboard to reveal the truth about Papa Doc: Doc, whose real name is Clarence, despite passing himself off as a thug, has a privileged background, having attended Cranbrook Schools, a private high school in upper-class suburb Bloomfield Hills, and grown up in a stable two-parent household.

With nothing to say in rebuttal, Clarence hands the microphone back to Future and Jimmy wins the battle. After being congratulated by Alex and his friends, Future offers him a position hosting battles at The Shelter. Jimmy declines, saying he has to get back to work and to find success his own way. He then walks back to work, with a renewed sense of confidence about his future.



Critical reception

The film received generally positive reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports the film is "Certified Fresh", with 76% of 205 professional critics giving the film a positive review and a rating average of 6.8 out of 10. Narrowed down to Rotten Tomatoes' "top critics", it holds a 88% approval rating based on 49 reviews, with an average of 7.3 out of 10. The site's consensus is that "Even though the story is overly familiar, there's enough here for an engaging ride."[4] On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 reviews from film critics, the film has rating score of 77 based on 38 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[5] CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend revealed the average grade cinemagoers gave 8 Mile was B+ on an A+ to F scale, with the core under-21 demographics giving it an A.[6]

Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars. He said that we "are hardly started in "8 Mile," and already we see that this movie stands aside from routine debut films by pop stars" and that it is "a faithful reflection of his myth". He said that Eminem, as an actor, is "convincing without being too electric" and "survives the X-ray truth-telling of the movie camera". He praised Eminem's approach to his role, saying that "The genius of Rabbit is to admit his own weaknesses." He complimented Basinger, saying that "Her performance finds the right note somewhere between love and exasperation; it cannot be easy to live with this sullen malcontent, whose face lights up only when he sees his baby sister, Lily." He said that criticism of Basinger for being "too attractive and glamorous to play Rabbit's mother" were unfair: "Given the numbers of ugly people who live in big houses, why can't there be beautiful people living in trailers?" He called the film "a grungy version of a familiar formula, in which the would-be performer first fails at his art, then succeeds, is unhappy in romance but lucky in his friends, and comes from an unfortunate background. He even finds love, sort of, with Alex," but "What the movie is missing, however, is the third act in which the hero becomes a star," as it "avoids the rags-to-riches route and shows Rabbit moving from rags to slightly better rags." He said that he "would love to see a sequel in which Rabbit makes millions and becomes world famous, and we learn at last if it is possible for him to be happy."[7]

In the At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper review, both Ebert and Richard Roeper gave the film a thumbs up; Roeper said that Eminem has a "winning screen presence" and "raw magic" to him. He was happy with Rabbit's "tender side" presented through his relationship with the "adorable" Greenfield as his sister, but felt that Basinger was "really miscast". But as in his own review, Ebert felt that the dark, depressing atmosphere of 8 Mile would turn off some Eminem fans, while Roeper thought they would like it. Roeper said: "8 Mile probably won't win converts to rap, but it should thrill Eminem fans."[8]

Peter Travers gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars. He said that 8 Mile "is a real movie, not a fast-buck package to exploit the fan base of a rap nonentity" that "qualifies as a cinematic event by tapping into the roots of Eminem and the fury and feeling that inform his rap. Hanson spares us the rags-to-riches cliches by leaving Rabbit on the edge of success. The film ends not with a blast but with the peace that comes to a rapper who finds his voice at last. That kind of class is a big risk for a novice stepping into the movie ring. Eminem wins by a knockout." He praised Hanson's directing, stating that he "succeeds brilliantly at creating a world around Eminem that teems with hip-hop energy and truth" and "excels with actors." He hailed Eminem's performance, saying that in 8 Mile, "Eminem is on fire" with an "electric" screen presence, "hold[ing] the camera by natural right" and "read[ing] lines with an offbeat freshness that makes his talk and his rap sound interchangeable," and sulk of "intensity to rival James Dean's." He said that Murphy was "dynamite, "play[ing] Alex with hot desperation and calloused vulnerability," while saying that "Basinger shines" in her role as well. "Hanson builds to a spectacular climax" with Rabbit's last three battles, and compared his final battle with Papa Doc to fight between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed in Rocky.[9]

Box office

8 Mile opened at #1 with $51,240,555 in its opening weekend, then the second highest opening for an R-rated movie in the U.S.[10] The film would go on to gross $116,750,901 in the domestic box office and $242,875,078 worldwide.[2] The film's final domestic gross would hold the film at #3 in Box Office Mojo's "Pop Star Debuts" list, behind Austin Powers in Goldmember (Beyoncé) and The Bodyguard (Whitney Houston).

The 8 Mile DVD, which was released on March 18, 2003, generated $75 million in sales and rentals in its first week, making it the biggest DVD debut ever for an R-rated movie and putting it in the all-time Top 10 for first week home video sales for a movie. A VHS version was also released on the same date.[11][12]

Top lists

8 Mile has been named to various year-end and all-time top lists:


In 2003, Eminem won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 75th Academy Awards, for his single "Lose Yourself" from the soundtrack of 8 Mile.[18] Thus he became the first hip hop artist ever to win an Academy Award. He was not present at the ceremony, but musician Luis Resto accepted the award.[19] Eminem was nominated for Best Original Song in 2002.[20] The film has been nominated for 32 awards, winning 11.[21]


Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture 8 Mile is the official music soundtrack to 8 Mile. Eminem features on five tracks from the album. It was released under the Shady/Interscope label and spawned the massive hit single "Lose Yourself". The album debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 Albums Chart that year with over 702,000 copies sold and 507,000 sold in the second week also finishing the year as the fifth best-selling album of 2002 with US sales of 3.2 million, despite only two months of release. It also reached #1 on the UK Compilations Chart and the Australian ARIAnet Albums Chart. It also spawned a follow up soundtrack, More Music from 8 Mile, consisting of songs that appear in 8 Mile that were current singles during the film's time setting of 1995. The album was also made in a clean edition removing most of the strong profanity and violent content.


  1. ^ "8 Mile". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  2. ^ a b c 8 Mile at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Lil' Wayne's 2012 VIBE Cover Story: 8 Miles and Runnin' | Vibe
  4. ^ Movie Reviews"8 Mile".  
  5. ^ 8 Mile Reviews - Metacritic
  6. ^
  7. ^ "8 Mile".  
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Eminem movie tops at US box office".  
  11. ^ Hettrick, Scott (2003-03-24). 8 Mile' DVD's going far"'". Variety. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  12. ^ "Eminem Stars in '8 MILE' Coming to DVD and VHS March 18, 2003".  
  13. ^ Ramirez, Erika (November 8, 2012). "Top 10 Best Hip-Hop Movies Ever".  
  14. ^  
  15. ^  
  16. ^  
  17. ^ "Best Films of 2002".  
  18. ^ "The 75th Academy Awards (2003) Nominees and Winners".  
  19. ^ Bozza 2003, p. 174
  20. ^ "The 60th Annual Golden Globe Awards (2003)".  
  21. ^ 8 Mile - Awards - IMDb
  22. ^ "The 60th Annual Golden Globe Awards (2003)".  
  23. ^ "Winners and Nominees for the 4th Annual Golden Trailer Awards".  
  24. ^ "2003 MTV Movie Awards".  
  25. ^ "Past Winners".  

External links

Preceded by
"If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. by Randy Newman
Academy Award for Best Original Song
Succeeded by
"Into the West" from Return of the King by Fran Walsh, Howard Shore, and Annie Lennox
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