8 Mile has a 2002 Academy Award-winning song starring Eminem (Marshall Mathers) as the young white rapper Jimmy Smith Jr. Eight Mile Road is a road which forms the boundary between predominantly African American Detroit, Michigan and the city's mostly "white" northern suburbs. The term "8 Mile" therefore represents a barrier that is difficult to cross.
Besides Mathers, the stars of the movie include Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer, Omar Benson Miller, Eugene Byrd, Michael Shannon, Evan Jones, Chloe Greenfield, Taryn Manning and De'Angelo Wilson.
The film begins with Eminem's character Jimmy "B. Rabbit" Smith Jr. at a local rap battle similar to the Rap Olympics and emceed by Smith's friend "Future" (played by Mekhi Phifer). A nervous Smith chokes at the mike and exits the competition.
After the initial scene at the music event, the movie focuses on the life of B. Rabbit, a young sheet metal factory worker who is struggling with different aspects of his life: Getting his music career started, ending a relationship with one girlfriend (Janeane, played by Taryn Manning), starting a relationship with another (Alex, played by Brittany Murphy), and the constant danger that exists as a result of the people he hangs around with. He lives at the rundown 8 Mile Road trailer park home of his alcoholic mother Stephanie (played by Kim Basinger), his much-younger sister Lily (Chloe Greenfield), and his mother's abusive live-in boyfriend Greg (Michael Shannon). Over the course of the next few days, Rabbit begins to realize that his life is spinning out of control and the only way he can keep it together is to make his rap career a success.
The final, climactic scene of the movie takes place a week later at a freestyle competition similar to the one in the movie's opening scenes. At this point, Rabbit has been hyped up by his friends as a really good rapper, but until this point we are only shown snippets of his skills.
Rabbit wins the opening round, and viewers see three progressively more impressive freestyle raps by Rabbit. In the lyrics of his last round he ultimately acknowledges with pride his 'white trash'-roots and compares it with the relatively privileged background of his antagonist (whose real name is Clarence, went to a private school (Cranbrook) and lives with both parents who have a real good marriage) which is usually very unfit in a hardcore environment like the 313, where you're supposed to be someone from "the streets". He calls him a "half-way" crook in the process. His opponent is left speechless and Rabbit clinches the title. This scene ultimately summarizes the hardships both Rabbit and the real-life Eminem has to go through. It is considered to be one of Eminem's best rapping performances, even though it is part of a movie, and not an official song.
As a sign of his growing maturity throughout the film, he humbly resists the pleas of his friends to go out and celebrate his victory, instead quietly walking off into the night to return to his shift at the sheet metal factory.
There has been considerable debate, in the mainstream press, amongst reviewers, and other viewers, on the extent to which 8 Mile is semi-autobiographical, biographical, or totally fictional. This has been fueled by the fact that events and characters depicted in the movie appear to parallel events, and people, in Mathers' own life (as presented in the media and in various songs).
Some have suggested the character Jimmy Smith mirrors Mathers as a young adult, with an alter ego of "Bunny Rabbit"/"B-Rabbit"/"Rabbit" mirroring Mathers' own "Eminem"/"Slim Shady"-alter ego, although Eminem has never made any allusion to this in the bonus feature portions of the 8 Mile DVD.
Other suggested parallels include but are not limited to:
Rabbit's 3-1-3 (Three-One-Three) posse to D12's rap group, of which Eminem is a member.
Rabbit's friend, mentor, and promoter Future to Dr. Dre, Eminem's real life friend, producer, and mentor. Although Eminem did not meet Dr.Dre until a stage of his life after which 8 Mile is set.
Rabbit's friend, mentor, and promoter Future to Kon Artis (real name Denaun Porter), Eminem's friend and fellow D12 rapper. Future's real name in the movie is "David Porter"; the sharing of the surname between Future and Kon Artis is unlikely to be a simple coincidence.
Rabbit's friend and contest MC Future to D-12 member Proof, who was Eminem's childhood friend and a frequent emcee in Detroit (Proof actually appears in the movie as the first person B-Rabbit is supposed to battle at the beginning called Lil' Tick. Future responds to his good but annoying rap by calling him Lil' Bitch "accidentally". Proof was shot on April 11, 2006 and pronounced dead upon his arrival at hospital.
Rabbit's little sister Lilly to Eminem's young daughter Hailie Jade Scott, noting they even sound similar. Eminem's "Lose yourself" video explicitly connects 8 Mile's Lilly to Eminem's daughter. Lilly could also be similar to Eminem's half brother or niece.
Rabbit's mother to Eminem's real-life mother, Debbie.
Rabbit's ex-girlfriend in 8 Mile to his real-life divorced, re-married and recently divorced again wife, Kim Mathers.
Rabbit's rap battles in "The Shelter" to Eminem's participation in "The Rap Olympics".
Also note, 313 is Detroit's Area Code.
The suggestion amongst those holding such a view is that identities and events were changed in the film, and thus should be considered "biographical", or "semi-autobiographical" (given Mathers' role in the creative process). Some people holding such views have suggested changes of names and events were done to make civil lawsuits against Eminem more difficult. Others have suggested that names were changed along with a fictionalized, sanitized account of real events, designed to legitimize Eminem as an artist, and present him in a positive light.
In contrast, Eminem, on numerous occasions, has stated that 8 Mile is a fictional story. However, he has admitted that he did indeed have a role in the creative process, and that places and events were indeed based on real events in his life. However, how far this role extended is still being debated.
Production Budget $41,000,000
Prints and Advertising Budget $25,000,000
Worldwide Gross: $215,300,000 (US Gross: $116,700,000)
US home video revenue: $130,000,000
The movie spawned two soundtracks
Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture 8 Mile featured several new songs by Eminem, along with collaborators 50 Cent and Obie Trice.
More Music From 8 Mile featured songs referred to in the movie. These songs are all Hip-Hop tracks from 1995 and earlier, as per the setting of the movie. Some artists on the soundtrack include Mobb Deep, Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan and The Pharcyde. It doesn't, however, feature all of the songs from the film, as songs by Onyx, Cypress Hill and Montell Jordan amongst others are absent.
The score's most famous track, Eminem's "Lose Yourself" (played over the closing credits), won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Original Song. Eminem and co-writer Jeff Bass did not attend the award ceremony, nor was the song performed on-air for the awards show. Co-writer Luis Resto accepted the award on behalf of the other two.
The movie featured 200 usages of the word "fuck", according to the Family Media Guide (see: List of films ordered by uses of the word "fuck").
Robot Chicken showed a parody of 8 Mile with Bugs Bunny imitating Eminem, Porky Pig as the DJ, and Daffy Duck as Future.
In the beginning of the movie, when Rabbit is in the bathroom, the beat from Mobb Deep's Shook Ones Pt. II is played. It is also the beat used in the final rap battle between Rabbit and Papa Doc.
Eminem parodies this movie in the single and video for "Just Lose It".
Scary Movie 3 parodied the rap battle scenes, but instead of the character "choking" he starts rapping.
Eight Mile Road, also known as M-102
Directed by Curtis Hanson
Produced by Curtis Hanson
Written by Scott Silver
Music by 50 Cent
Cinematography Rodrigo Prieto
Editing by Craig Kitson
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) 8 November 2002
Running time 110 min
Country USA / Germany
Debate about biographical nature