Walk the Line

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Walk the Line Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Fascinating biopic, best for mature teens and up.
  • PG-13
  • 2005
  • 136 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 14 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Father and son tensions, couples argue over money and moral principles.


A fatal accident occurs off-screen, leaving family members with bloody clothes; boy dies in hospital bed; some fist fighting and drunken behaviors.


A tasteful sex scene, some carousing by band members on the road.


Some strong language (including f-word, and Johnny's father's use of the n-word).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Smoking; Johnny is addicted to amphetamines and alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film includes frequent images of drug use and drunkenness, as Johnny Cash was a famously driven, unhappy man, as well as a brilliant artist. The film concerns his relationship with his wife June Carter, which involves both divorcing other spouses and tensions as she helps him fight his addictions. The film also features frequent cursing, drinking, and smoking, as well as fights between father and son. A boy is killed off-screen in a circle-saw accident. There is a brief sex scene and some adulterous behavior.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjorgeal95 March 6, 2011

Mature content, but good biopic

Just a regular biopic of Johnny Cash plus his wife, both now resting in peace. In some parts, this may bore the younger teens and kids. You have to pay really g... Continue reading
Parent of a 15-year-old Written byTsion July 22, 2010

A High-Quality Biopic...

...for adults and teens. No kids on this one, period. However, for mature audiences, WALK THE LINE is an intelligent, entertaining, and ultimately uplifting m... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byYzobel March 4, 2013

I Love This Movie!

This is my favorite movie of all time! This used to be my favorite movie when I was six years old when it came out. Its an amazing, inspiring and beautiful movi... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byThe Mighty Neb April 24, 2021

What's the story?

WALK THE LINE tells the life story of Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) as he tries to please his disparaging father Ray (Robert Patrick), and finds solace in his passions for music and June (Reese Witherspoon). June and Johnny's legendary mutual devotion helps to make his equally infamous orneriness seem worthwhile. The film begins with Johnny's childhood trauma-that-becomes-life-crushing-guilt – the death of his older brother. Johnny joins the Air Force, and buys his first guitar while stationed in Germany in 1955. While in the Air Force, Johnny sees a newsreel about Folsom Prison, feels a kinship with the inmates, and writes "Folsom Prison Blues," the song with the dicey lyrics that convinces Sam Phillips (Dallas Roberts) to sign him. Johnny falls in love with fellow country singer June, but he's married to Vivian (Ginnifer Goodwin), who resents his absence and addictions. As Johnny's fame grows, his marriage falls apart and he desperately tries to win June, who inspires him in his career and eventually agrees to marry him.

Is it any good?

Fascinating and well-acted, WALK THE LINE's mythologizing of Johnny Cash is never very surprising (though Phoenix's performance is frequently remarkable). Predictably showcasing high and low points, this biopic wrestles the man's contradictions and passions into a typical, palatable shape. The dead brother story begs comparison to Ray Charles', as do the two films' structural similarities.

June's dedication to Johnny is admirable and profound, She supports her man in all circumstances, even when Johnny makes it hard to love him. It makes all the difference, as the film loves their glorious duets and returns repeatedly to her moral and emotional schooling. Throughout the film, June's gaze makes Johnny seem inspired and exceptional. It's a familiar story, the good woman who stands by her man. And it's tantalizing too, suggesting that another, perhaps less typical story might be found in June's life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether or not they feel this is an accurate portrayal of the events in Cash's life. Are there biases involved in the storytelling? Does the movie further the myth of Johnny Cash or provide new insight into his character? From whose point of view is the story told?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music

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