Taking Woodstock (2009)

One of the biggest parties of the centuries, that nobody who saw this was apart of.

A twenty something man (Demetri Martin) finds his life forever changed in the summer of 1969 when he offers up his parents’ motel in the Catskills as a home base for Woodstock organizers and helps the show go on by donating an all-important music festival permit.

Based on the Elliot Tiber novel, the films aims to tell what happened behind the scenes. Many viewers though looking for spectacular concert footage, will find themselves leaving and wanting a lot more than they got, such as I did myself.

Now, for people that wanted to see all the love and music that was put into Woodstock, go check out the documentary Woodstock. This one doesn’t feature any of the performances, which kind of made me a little ticked off knowing that I wanted to see Woodstock itself, and not necessarily this dysfunctional family that had to deal with it.

The film also has those bunch of crazy cliches that surround the 60s. You got the pot smokers, LSD doers, transvestites, naked hippies, and of course the ones always rolling in the mud. I was expecting a different more fresh look at the crowd rather than just seeing everything that I already know I’m going to see, from a film about the 60s.

Now all that said, the film looks exactly like it was in the 60s during Woodstock. I really did feel like I was apart of this, and this is what made the film a lot more entertaining for me. Director Ang Lee, does a great job at re-imagining these beautiful and cultural images from Woodstock that we all know.

The film isn’t as funny as it just a little cute coming-of-age drama. I liked how the film explored all the ways this nerdy guy tries to become part of this hippie movement, but also has a lot of differences with all of them. Ang Lee also uses the split-screen documentary style to show everything that is going on and it really does work here, and captures the same exact essence the documentary did.

The performances weren’t that good, but they were OK. I wish Demetri Martin was more funny, and to be truly honest I think he was sort of miss cast. The colorful characters that surround him are made up of superstars like Paul Dano, Emile Hirsch, and the real saving grace of this film for me, Liev Schreiber. He is funny as this transvestite, and every time is on-screen brings out a whole bunch of laughs within me.

Consensus: Taking Woodstock has the usual 60s cliches that you would expect, not a lot of hilarious comedy, and an underwhelming atmosphere, but captures the look and feel of Woodstock, and has some nice moments.


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