Walk the Line

  • Review Date: February 27, 2006
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 136 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Fascinating biopic, best for mature teens and up.
  • Review Date: February 27, 2006
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 136 minutes





What parents need to know

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).

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Smoking; Johnny is addicted to amphetamines and alcohol.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:November 18, 2005
DVD release date:February 28, 2006
Cast:Ginnifer Goodwin, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon
Director:James Mangold
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:136 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some language, thematic material and depiction of drug dependency.

This review of Walk the Line was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byweedthenmulch April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Brings an era of music alive

This story of Johnny Cash's career and its impact on his health was well done. The story line, acting and directing were all excellent. The depiction of drug and alchohol abuse was realistic. It did not glamorize the use of drugs and alchohol. The consequences of abuse were graphic and devastating to all concerned. The movie provided an interesting view of a few of the key people involved in the 'birth of rock and roll.' I recommend it.
Teen, 15 years old Written byTnMovieFan2 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Adult Written byelle317K April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Moved to silence (almost)...

If movies ever made me cry, this one would have done it. At the end of the film, I sat with my mouth open. This is a beautiful love story of two people who support and defend one another through times most of us don't have to imagine. Aside from the "throw away" manner in which Johnny and Vivian's relationship was shown (absolutely no redeeming qualities were given to her), the movie shows the bad consequences of bad behavior and the good consequences of good behavior. That it's all true made it even more touching. Highly recommend.


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