When the movie started, I was in total shock for about 10 seconds because I didn't expect the story to jump right into the thick of things. I figured the story would take a 1, 2, 3 path, but instead ended up 3, 1, 2, and it worked beautifully. I'm not going to bore you with all the details of this film. It has beautiful cinematography, great characters who are real and believable (I loved the hippies and the river couple) and the movie flowed nicely. The only issue I had was with the whole parent thing. The cuts to their lives and the drama of the father was overly distracting and very unnecessary - actually, it all seemed pretty stupid - I didn't like the casting for the mom and dad - I just didn't buy them as his parents. Penn did an outstanding job with scene sequence and getting the best performance from each actor. Just seeing Hal Holbrook's is worth the price of the ticket. I wish they'd showed more of Chris' struggles in the wild as detailed in the book, but I guess that would've made the movie too long. For as lengthy as it was, it went by way too fast. It didn't make me cry (well a few places did, but not for Chris) and I laughed and chuckled in others, as did others. What's interesting is, I left the theater with total indiffence. It was great to watch, but it didn't have any impact on me one way or another, which is strange.