"Over the Line?"
What You Need To Know:
WALK THE LINE, a biography of country music legend Johnny Cash, begins by telling the tragic death of Johnny Cash's older brother. Johnny feels guilty about his brother's death. His father's criticisms don't help. After serving in the army, Cash takes his wife and daughter to Memphis. Despite the admonishments of his nagging wife to get a real job, Cash pursues his music career until he hits it big with Sun Records. Cash tours with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and June Carter of the famous Carter Family. Cash easily falls in love with June, but his marriage and addiction for amphetamines push June away. After his divorce, only June's love can save him from himself.
WALK THE LINE tones down the Christian elements in Cash's story to concentrate on his image as a troubled rebel. Drug addiction and adultery also play a major role. After a shaky start, Joaquin Phoenix does a great job of capturing Cash's stage presence. The chemistry between him and Reese Witherspoon as June is good, though not as powerful as advertised. For example, Johnny and June's sizzling rendition of "Jackson" comes off here as pretty limp.
(Pa, RHRH, Ab, C, B, LL, V, S, N, AA, DDD, M) Strong pagan worldview with mixed elements including revisionist history that tones down the Christian elements in a true story, at least one anti-Christian element when Christian woman admonishing another woman for adultery is made to look foolish, some Christian elements but toned down such as woman takes man to church and boy studying Scripture expresses desire to be a preacher and is repeatedly called a good person, and some moral, biblical elements; 14 obscenities (including one "f" word), one possible strong profanity, one light profanity, and Jerry Lee Lewis tells Johnny Cash and Elvis Pressley that he and they are going to Hell because of the songs they sing; blood on boy's short after implied saw accident, singer busts floodlights, married couple fight, people chase off drug dealer with shotguns, and angry man trashes dressing room; married singer goes off with female groupies and themes of adultery with implied fornication between married man and woman; upper male nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking, heavy amphetamine use, man sells illegal amphetamines, and man sings cocaine song; and, negative father figure.
WALK THE LINE, a biography of country music legend Johnny Cash, tones down the Christian elements in Cash’s story to concentrate on his image as a rebel and an outlaw.
WALK THE LINE begins well by telling the tragic story of Johnny Cash’s brother, a serious Bible student who dies after a tragic accident with a saw. Johnny feels guilty about his older brother’s death. The admonishments of his strict father, who criticizes Johnny’s interest in country music, don’t help.
In the army overseas, Johnny begins writing songs in earnest. After his service, he takes his wife, Vivian, and daughter to Memphis. Despite the admonishments of his nagging wife to get a real job, Cash pursues his music career until he hits it big with Sun Records with his early hits “Cry, Cry, Cry” and “Get Rhythm.” He and his band go on tour with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and June Carter of the famous Carter Family.
Cash easily falls for June. Though June rebuffs him because they’re both married, his wife Vivian’s nagging drives him further away. June continues to rebuff him even after she gets a divorce, and Cash’s addiction for amphetamines threatens to kill him. Cash’s marriage finally breaks up, but his addiction continues. Only June’s love and friendship can save him from himself.
After a shaky start, Joaquin Phoenix does a great job of capturing Johnny Cash’s stage presence. The chemistry between him and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter is good, though it’s not as powerful as some have advertised. Part of the problem may be the movie’s episodic structure. Even so, Johnny and June’s sizzling rendition of “Jackson” comes off here as pretty limp.
Except for a scene where June takes him to church, WALK THE LINE shies away from portraying how she led Cash to Christ. Instead, the movie focuses on showing how June and her family helped Johnny get over his amphetamine addiction at his country home by keeping him away from the drugs. In addition to drug addiction, adultery and rebellion play a major role in the movie. Although Cash kicks his amphetamine habit, he sings joyously about taking cocaine during his classic performance at Folsom Prison.