Granted, this film garnered an 'R' rating for good reasons. There are scenes of drug use and gratuitous nudity which, frankly, did not advance the plot one whit. The entire film seemed to flirt with borderline porn in both the editing and the directing and the music on the soundtrack seemed to be for a different movie altogether.
Please do not waste your time on this movie. It will be ninety minutes of your life you can never get back!
Of course, you have to compress a lot of stuff into a 2 hour+ movie. I would've liked to see the scene where Johnny leaves Sam Phillips due to the fact he wanted to make a gospel album. (Hinted at from the beginning, but according to "Cash" the reason he left Sun Records.) Also the folk festival Johnny played where he actually met Bob Dylan (seen in archival footage of the recent PBS documentary on Dylan.) They probably could've got Jakob to play his dad-- but I guess I'm directing another movie.
One sore spot: "Ring of Fire" was released in 1963. I know this. I was three years old and I cajoled my father into buying the 45 for me. (Maybe it was the mariachi horns.) The movie makes you think it was written three years later-- and that June wrote the entire song by herself. Actually, she had to have some help because it was such a hard song for her to write.
And now a word about two criticisms I've read and I couldn't believe the shoddy knowledge of the facts...
Why didn't they have "A Boy Named Sue"? Because the movie stops at 1968. This song was recorded live at San Quentin in 1969. (Seen on the documentary currently running on CMT ad infinitum.)
Why wasn't Kris Kristofferson included? Because the movie stops at 1968. "Sunday Morning Coming Down" wasn't released until Johnny had his variety show on ABC. (1969-1971). I guess they could've shown him as a custodian at Columbia, but that would be a bit of a stretch...
All in all, an entertaining and well-acted movie. Johnny said he wanted the filmmakers to show the truth warts and all-- and I think they succeeded.
The animation is a wonderful achievement and this is truly a movie where the story comes to life on screen. I was totally unfamiliar with the book, so I read my granddaughter's copy after the movie and realized the movie resonated with me moreso than someone of my granddaughter's age. This movie speaks to those who no longer can hear the sound of the Christmas bell. In many ways, there is something of a peculiar kinship with "It's A Wonderful Life" in the use of the bell for the spirit of Christmas as opposed to the sound of a bell for an angel getting their wings. Kudos to Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks for a brilliantly conceived vision. Haven't seen the IMAX version, but I can only imagine how much more harrowing certain parts of this movie might be in that format. The instrumental music is very interesting. Nearly a supernatural theme rather than a wistful one, but it works in this movie wonderfully. The individual songs may not be hummable as you leave the theater, but they work well in the context of the film.