I had intended to write a review quite some time ago and hadn't gotten around to it. But a friend just asked me "Do you know how accurate the movie actually is?"... which prompted me to write this tome in response:
My impression is it's pretty accurate. Of the few less-than-stellar reviews the film has received on various web sites, many of them cite that it is dark and depressing. This is what makes a lot of people think it might not be accurate. But here's what I know. Rich's family, in particular his brother David, repeatedly turned down requests to do movies on Rich's life in the 15 or so years following his death... until "Ragamuffin". Not only that, but David Mullins, I believe, worked closely with writer/director/co-star David Leo Schultz as a consultant on the movie. At least one of Rich's long-time real life friends plays a role in the movie, and one of his inmost circle, Sam Howard, plays the role of his own father, Maurice Howard, who was a mentor/father figure to Rich.
Furthermore, the documentary on the making of "Ragamuffin", called "Rich Mullins: A Ragamuffin's Legacy", bears out a lot of the darkness and struggles with which Rich dealt in life, particularly in interviews with his closest friends from Cincinnati Bible College #including the aforementioned Sam Howard#. The "Legacy" documentary can almost be seen as a companion to the film, and I personally think it should be watched in close succession to "Ragamuffin".
There are at least one or two items of artistic license taken in the feature film. One, revealed in the documentary, has to do with where exactly Rich was when a pivotal event in his life happened #I won't reveal here what that event was so as not to provide a spoiler#. However, the spirit of the event, and how it affected Rich, are true.
I believe most viewers who end up taken aback or disillusioned by how dark and truly messed up the Rich Mullins portrayed in "Ragamuffin" was, especially in contrast to how joyous and ebullient he usually was in concert, either don't see how the "two faces of Rich" could've coexisted or think that the film overemphasized the conflicts he went through. I can definitely see the point in the latter; it was certainly, shall we say, eye-opening for me, though I'd heard some slight indications of the kind of person Rich could be at times from a couple of people I've known who knew Rich somewhat.
Be that all as it may, I think that "Ragamuffin" neither can be nor was meant to be an exhaustive, encyclopedic account of all facets of Rich's life; nor a dispassionate, balanced documentary #that's more what "Legacy" is#. It is somewhere on the spectrum between a fictitious account that is "based on a true story" or "inspired by the life of" and a documentary biopic that presents the hard facts only. It is decidedly closer to the latter on that spectrum, but it is, like all films, vastly colored by the vision of the writer/director, and in this case, David Leo Schultz did his research #this is apparent#, but was not a compadre of Rich, and as such will never be 100% accurate.
THAT being said, 100% accuracy is not the reason to see or not see this movie. It is, in my frank opinion, a tour de force of a film that celebrates the triumph of God's grace and love in the lives of even the most broken of us. It offers nearly solid proof that we need not clean up our act before God will love, accept, and use us for His glory... and further, unfortunate, proof that His love, acceptance and use of us does not shield us from our fears and drive away our demons once and for all.
And for me, who didn't hear about Rich's death until three days after the fact, who was two thousand miles away from the nearest memorial service, seeing the movie served for me as a long-awaited memorial service. It was cathartic. It was, I remarked afterward, the best time I ever had while sobbing on and off for two hours. I thought it was well done in virtually all respects #even star Michael Koch's unkempt hair and impression of Rich's singing voice, which were other sources of complaint for some but with which I had no problem#. I've purchased at least five copies since the DVD came out and have given them away to friends. I have an extra copy on hand in case another such opportunity arises; and if and when I give that one away, I'll go buy another. Such is my affinity for this movie.