Oscar-Nominated Bio-Pic Out on DVD
Whether accurate or not, Hollywood has a need to turn every biography
a Horatio Alger story about a down-on-his-luck loser overcoming the odds to
achieve the American Dream. This might explain why Walk the Line, featuring
Oscar-nominated performances by both Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon,
gives no hint that its subject, Johnny Cash was a college grad from a
middle-class family. Instead, it serves up a rehash of his
carefully-cultivated “Man in Black” outlaw image, including a misleading
depiction of him in prison, when he only actually spent one night behind
bars in his entire life.
This flick’s primary failing is the absence of that trademark Cash
baritone, because Mr. Phoenix handles all his own singing. And while he
might be able to hold his own in karaoke contest, his voice simply doesn’t
measure up to that of the celebrated icon he’s attempting to impersonate.
In this regard, Walk the Line is reminiscent of Beyond the Sea, a vanity pic
in which actor/writer/director Kevin Spacey delivered equally-mediocre
renditions of tunes culled from the “Best of Bobby Darin” songbook. But Walk
the Line has just a couple of recognizable hits in it, the title track and
Ring of Fire.
Unfortunately, the preposterous plot of this tortoise-paced bio-pic is no
more convincing, asking us to buy into the idea that Johnny was in love with
June Carter (Ms. Witherspoon) from the day he first heard her on the radio
at the age of 10. Relying on this “fated-to-be” theory, the story
deliberately works its way to a phony-baloney “off into the sunset” ending
based on the notion that these two adulterers finally found immortal bliss
after breaking up each other’s marriages and undoubtedly wrecking the home
lives of their young children.
It’s no surprise that the kids from Johnny’s first marriage went public to
indict the presentation of their father as a family man as purely a
Fair (1 star)
Rating: PG-13 for profanity, ethnic slurs, mature themes, and a depiction of
Running time: 136 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Director’s commentary, 10 deleted scenes, theatrical trailer,
product trailers, and commercials for other Fox films.