Bodied review: A battle rapper origin story

Bodied -- Acquired via Bodied Official Website
Bodied -- Acquired via Bodied Official Website /

The Eminem produced Bodied, starring Calum Worthy and Jackie Long, is a two-hour setup bar leading into a punch that leaves you thirsty for a second round.

Going into the film Bodied I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew Eminem attached his name to the film as a producer so the hip-hop aspect should be solid, but what about the story itself?

From the trailer, you can gather that the Bodied is a comedy. However, you can also tell that there is a strong socially conscious element as well. With this information, I went in expecting there to be a point in the film where the main character, Adam (Calum Worthy), has to face the reality of him being a privileged white kid stepping into circles where he doesn’t belong.

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I expected a turning point of some sort where he learns something important about himself or the world and changes for the better. A coming of age story for a battle rap fan.

That is not what Joseph Kahn and Alex Larsen delivered. By the end, I was shocked, blown away, and in need of seeing it again.

You’re repeatedly led into the trap of thinking you’re going to predict what’s coming next, only to have the rug pulled out from under you. It’s done in a way that delivers comically every single time and enhances the film when it could have easily had the opposite effect.

There are a lot of reasons Bodied was a great film but let’s hit the reasons why you should (or shouldn’t) watch it.

No wasted moments

Despite the two-hour run-time, Bodied doesn’t give you any opportunity to rest. It jumps straight into a rap battle and gives you an immediate introduction to who your main characters, namely Adam and Behn Grymm (Jackie Long), are. The pacing is great, and there is so much happening that the passing of time feels seamless. Every scene matters and adds to the whole of the story.

Bodied — Acquired via Bodied Official Website
Bodied — Acquired via Bodied Official Website /

The characters felt authentic

This was expected from the trailer but each of our main characters felt like they could easily exist in the real world. Adam is the type of kid who would fall in love with battle rap online but typically wouldn’t actually enter the arena in the way that he did. His lack of rap battle etiquette in the opening lets you know that he’s somewhat versed in the culture but not exactly adept at navigating those waters. He’s welcomed in but he’s the type of kid that wouldn’t even think twice about whether or not he’s welcome anywhere.

At the same time, you have Behn Grymm. He has his tough rap battle persona, and then he has his life as a family man. One thing that movies don’t typically portray well is the idea of “code switching.”

For black people in the corporate world, this comes second nature and Behn is one of the more pure examples I’ve seen of this in a movie. He’s attached to the rap culture but is able to successfully navigate the family life and hold a regular professional job at the same time. He’s also able to keep the two worlds separate.

Both of these sides of him are authentic and neither is made to feel like an act at the end of the day. Most films tend to make you think one is more authentic than the other when the reality is that being a social chameleon is a huge part of the black existence in America.

(L-R) Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Joseph Kahn, and Charlamagne tha God.(Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)
(L-R) Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Joseph Kahn, and Charlamagne tha God.(Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images) /

The story

Over the course of the film, Adam gets more and more involved in the battle world and it begins to affect his already established relationships. It affects his status at his school, his friendships, and his relationship with his girlfriend.

Again, things seem to be going a certain way and you start to form an idea as to where you think it’s going but then it goes another way entirely. I spent the entire movie trying to figure out what kind of story was being told and by the time the credits rolled at the end I was mad that I did that. My advice to the next viewer is to simply enjoy the ride because it is a wild and fun one.

Joseph Kahn

Kahn has been a strong name in the music video world for a long time. He’s won two Best Short Form Music Video Grammy’s (one with Taylor Swift for “Bad Blood” and one with Eminem for “Without Me”) and has a who’s who list of other clients. The cinematic effects added to the rap battles (and even when Adam starts battling with regular people in his head) make the rhymes stick harder than they would have without the quick zoom-in and the tight shots.

He makes you feel like the rhymers are in your face and it’s impossible not to get sucked in that way. For some rhymes, he adds visual effects to help explain some of the double-entendres and metaphors.

Personally, I think Kahn needs to make more movies.


If you are easily offended this is not the film for you. Eminem has built a career around having no filter and this film embodies his approach to rap.

With that said, the film is non-stop jokes with a main character who toes the line of being too goofy while still being a monster in the arena. Jackie Long absolutely kills it as Behn Grym and he’s now someone, along with Calum Worthy, that I’m going to keep an eye out for going forward.

Next. Family Movies ruled the box office this weekend. dark

In a film about battle rap it’s always great to be able to give back to the culture so it was great to see battle rap stars like Dizaster, Loaded Lux, Hollow Da Don, and Daylyt brought on, not just as consultants but as actors for Bodied. Between Kahn and Alex Larsen their involvement and concern for the culture was evident and made this a fantastic film for a battle rap fan, or just a fan of smart, raw, humor.

I need a sequel.

Bodied is currently streaming on Youtube Premium.