Mr. Movie

'Taking Woodstock' takes Woodstock for granted

A miscommunication with Regal Cinemas led to there not being a review of Taking Woodstock last week when the film opened.

It was supposed to open this weekend. I apologize for the late review.

1969’s Woodstock was the ultimate block party. A 500,000 humans packed onto a muddy field listening to the music of rock and roll gods while higher than proverbial kites.

A plethora of documentaries and news specials have packed TV listings for the last month honoring the event. The summer’s most anticipated movie Taking Woodstock was to be the pinnacle of the celebration.

Ang Lee’s interest is Elliot Teichberg’s book on his Woodstock experience. He’s the closeted gay son of the owners of a run-down motel in the Catskills who just happened to have a permit for a music festival at a time when the producers of Woodstock couldn’t get one. Teichberg introduced the festival’s producers to dairy farmer Max Yasgur, and the rest is history.

It’s not getting into the history that makes Taking Woodstock as disappointing as Woodstock’s festival follow-up at Altamont.

You look forward to meeting people in the crowd and living their experience. You want to watch actor Eugene Levy — who looks uncannily like Yasgur — in an emotional and inspiring finale yell to the crowd, “You've proven to the world is that a half a million kids — and I call you kids because I have children that are older than you are — a half million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music, and I God Bless You for it!”

You want to connect to the music. Woodstock was about music. Yet there is very little. There an urge to go behind the scenes and make a connection to the who’s who of the era’s counterculture. You never meet them.

Woodstock participants wallowed in Yasgar’s muddy fields. Lee wallows in Teichberg’s muddy — and uninteresting — life. And that defines the film’s fatal flaw.

We want to go to Woodstock. The documentaries get us there. The movie doesn’t.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars

Rated R for mature themes, language, drug use, nudity. It is playing at Regal’s Columbia Mall 8.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.