Ang Lee’s clumsy adaptation of Elliot Tibers and Tom Monte’s book Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Lift can't decide if it wants to be a comedy, a drama or merely a slice-of-life reflection on a small-town community transformed by a cultural happening in 1969.
Demetri Martin steps lightly around his closeted gay Jewish character Elliot Teichberg, who movies back in with his parents at their ramshackle motel, the El Monaco, in the Catskills, N.Y. Intent on protecting his parents from looming bankruptcy, Elliot seeks out music producer Michael Lang (Jonathan Groff) after hearing that an adjacent town has lost its permit to host his music and arts festival.
Imelda Staunton does some great character work as Elliot's domineering mother Sonia, but her efforts are unrewarded by the material, as are underdeveloped secondary roles well sketched by Emile Hirsch and Liev Schreiber.
Unforgivable is the film’s neglect of the musical element that any movie about Woodstock should necessarily have. There are flashes of inspiration here, but nothing to sustain a feature film’s worth of narrative import. Grade: C
Opens Aug. 26. Check out theaters and show times, see the film's trailer and get theater details here.