Taking Woodstock There were half a million people at Woodstock, and in Ang Lee's impressively staged, thinly written Taking Woodstock , you feel as if you're seeing… Taking Woodstock There were half a million people at Woodstock, and in Ang Lee's impressively staged, thinly written Taking Woodstock , you feel as if you're seeing… 2009-08-28 PT121M Comedy Emile Hirsch Demetri Martin Liev Schreiber Eugene Levy Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Movie Review

Taking Woodstock (2009)

Eugene Levy, Demetri Martin, ... | PEACE PIPE Eugene Levy and Demetri Martin survey the concert site in Taking Woodstock
Image credit: Ken Regan
PEACE PIPE Eugene Levy and Demetri Martin survey the concert site in Taking Woodstock
EW's GRADE
B-

Details Release Date: Aug 28, 2009; Length: 121 Minutes; Genre: Comedy; With: Emile Hirsch, Demetri Martin and Liev Schreiber

There were half a million people at Woodstock, and in Ang Lee's impressively staged, thinly written Taking Woodstock, you feel as if you're seeing a great many of them flow by. The film mostly stays away from the festival's electric center of gravity. A lot of it is set in a run-down motel in the Catskills town of White Lake, N.Y., where hippie drifters start to show up and clog the roads. Lee captures the fractious, joyful, monstrously evolving mass it all was.

The festival could have made for a lively 
 Altmanesque canvas of the counterculture. 
 Instead, Lee sets his sights on Elliot Tiber 
 (Demetri Martin), a shy interior designer whose cranky Yiddishe parents own the motel in 
 question. Elliot inadvertently gets Woodstock launched by leading a trivial Chamber of 
Commerce vote, and it's fun to see him rub shoulders with Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy), who rents his acreage out to the festival, and with Michael Lang, the bare-chested-under-his-vest hippie capitalist who masterminds the event; Jonathan Groff plays Lang as a cagey idealist who uses his ''Oh, wow!'' enthusiasm to size up every situation. But mostly we're watching Elliot, who is gay and scared, learn to give in to his feelings and defy his parents. He's the ''straightest'' guy in the film (ironic!), but there's a reason that no one at Woodstock ever chanted the 
slogan ''Let the nice Jewish boy be free!'' B-

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Originally posted Aug 25, 2009 Published in issue #1063 Sep 04, 2009 Order article reprints