Swanner: In Taking Woodstock, Elliott Teichberg helps his parents run a motel in the Catskills during the summer of 1969. Trying to find ways to improve the attendance, Elliott makes a few calls to offer up his town as a venue for a music festival called Woodstock. Taking Woodstock gives you an idea of what hosting one of the biggest concerts of all times was like. I think it’s a trip worth taking.
Judd: You must be high. The movie is from the company Focus Features, which usually means excellent script, direction and acting with an indie feel. Taking Woodstock had the pedigree covered with Imelda Staunton, Emile Hirsch, Lieve Schreiber, Paul Dano and director Ang Lee. But the movie itself was a weak tale of nostalgic pining and overblown stereotypes.
Swanner: I have to argue with you because I do remember the time period and it felt very authentic to me. To you it may seem foreign since, now a days, this only exists in crazy compounds in the hills and rundown apartments in the Haight. I also liked that the film was a behind the scenes look at how all this madness happened. As far as the stereotyping…I’m not sure to who you are referring. If it’s the hippies, that was spot on. They were like that. It was horrible and the peace and love crap was everywhere. Looking back it’s hysterical and they capture it beautifully. I thought the script did a really nice job creating characters and situations that kept me interested to the end. Maybe you needed to be high to relax and take the journey man.
Judd: Trust me, I know hippies are filthy freeloaders that believe “labels are for cans” and other such nonsense. It was Staunton’s money hungry Jew that put me off. The only thing that could have made her character anymore clichéd is if she did a song and dance number with Zero Mostel. Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum. None of the characters had any depth. The gay subplot with Elliot and Schrieber’s transexualism felt tacked for the sole reason of representing the sexual revolution of the time. Neither issue did anything to add to the plot. Let’s not forget the pointless kid with the Roger Daltry hair who kept everyone cool and feelin’ groovy. His part could have been cut completely and it wouldn’t have made a difference.
Swanner: Like I said earlier, I remember these people. Jonathan Groff character was perfect for the time. Not to mention he made me laugh every time he showed up to make things feel groovy. Imelda Staunton was a bit over the top but it’s a comedy and stereotypes are expected in comedies for…lets say it together!!! Comic relief! The gay subplot you mentioned is a factual part of the story so maybe they didn’t carry it through enough for you but how many other movies have you seen this summer that had a gay character in them, no less an open mouth, man on man kiss or a 6’2 transgender woman. Look, I hate hippies too but as a reminder on why I dislike the peace and love crowd, Taking Woodstock does it’s job. I see the movie a slice of life film where I think your hatred for these lazy, smelly, urinate in public, eating out of dumpsters, go out and get a freakin job acidheads has really jaded this experience for you.
Judd: I hate hippies, but hippies are not the reason I disliked the movie! The movie is thin and underdeveloped. The characters are shallow and the plot and all subplots go nowhere. Nothing is ever resolved with Elliot and his budding homosexuality. Nothing is resolved with the local townsfolk who harass the Teichberg family for hosting Woodstock and inviting the hippies into town. The actual concert is never addressed. I expect more from Focus Features – but then again we are entering September and maybe this is one of the crappy movies their trying to purge from their inventory before Oscar Season.
Swanner: Man you are bringing me down. All you do is bitch. Slice of life doesn’t always get resolved. If you want everything resolved at the end then you need to watch the Brady Bunch. 22 minutes later all is well with the world. The only things I didn’t like in the film were the few scenes at the actual Woodstock event otherwise I had a good time. Underdeveloped is what the 60’s were all about…sometimes you have to let art just flow over you. Take a pill and stop being one.
Judd: Look man, I catch your vibe, but like, this movie was not copacetic, not by far, man. It was square, you dig? It was flat, man, real flat. Like, taking a bunch of clichés and stereotypes does not a movie make, man. There wasn’t any love in it, and isn’t that what 1969 and Woodstock was about all about, man? Love? This was just a bunch of cutouts, man, like moving on the screen and saying words, but the words don’t mean anything. You dig? There are better stories out there, man, this one’s not worth the green.
Swanner: 3 Stars
Judd: 1 Star