"My sense is that Brewer knows he needs the abrasive material so that audiences will think they're getting unmediated realism instead of the usual rags-to-riches cliches."
Roger Ebert is in full gush over Terrence Howard:
"Every good actor has a season when he comes into his own, and this is Terrence Howard's time."
And The New York Times turns on the purple prose extruder, saying the movie:
"... is a volatile mixture of slickness and sincerity, hard-edged naturalism and sheer show-business hokum. ... A rough, sticky sense of place - you can almost smell the sweat of Memphis coming off the screen - dresses up a story so conventional that it sometimes verges on self-parody. Mr. Brewer's attempt to fuse hip-hop street credibility, art-house cachet and follow-your-dream, triumph-of-the-underdog Hollywood uplift is canny but clumsy."