Thursday, June 3, 2010

Taking Woodstock

Directed by Ang Lee.
2009. Rated R, 121 minutes.
Demetri Martin
Imelda Staunton
Dan Fogler
Henry Goodman
Jonathan Groff
Eugene Levy
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Emile Hirsch
Liev Schreiber

Paul Dano

Plot: Elliot Tiber (Martin) is desperately trying to save his parents’ motel from being foreclosed upon. When a nearby town pulls the plug on “a hippie music festival” he calls the organizers to see if they want to move the event to his town. “Inspired” by the true story of Woodstock.

The Good: Visually, it’s an interesting movie. It’s not interesting in a big special fx blockbuster way, but there’s so much going on your eyes willingly dart around the screen trying to take as much of it in as possible. It effectively captures the feel of Woodstock as thousands of people seem to be incessantly milling around. More importantly, we get three interesting stories of self-discovery. To that end, the way Elliot’s relationship with his parents plays out is very well done. Overall, the movie is at its best when it goes for the stoner vibe. That aspect supplies us with the best humor.

The Bad: It can’t seem to decide what it wants to be. It tries to be a straight comedy but unless Elliot’s mom (Staunton) is on screen it’s not quite funny enough. At other times, it tries for gut-wrenching melodrama. However, it never quite succeeds at that, either. Without the ability to commit to any style in particular, it’s not effective enough at any one of them. Finally, the music that makes Woodstock legendary is strangely absent.

The Ugly: Liev Schreiber in a dress is disturbing on a Patrick Swayze & Wesley Snipes in To Wong Foo level.

Recommendation: TW is a movie with some interesting parts but they never seem to work all together. As a result, it’s a terribly uneven watch. There are stretches of flatness interspersed with a few moments of greatness.

The Opposite View: Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

What the Internet Says: 6.8/10 on (6/3/10), 48% on, 55/100 on

MY SCORE: 5/10

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