If Somebody Says "Woodstock" One More Time...
Hey! Baby boomers! Hey there! Stop not understanding the internet for two seconds (just a single click will do on that link, homie) and look over here! I need to let you know something. Which is that we get it. We really fucking get it. You were young once, and at that time you attended (or didn't) a thing called Woodstock. Jimi Hendrix was there, and you wore a gourd instead of clothing and you got mud on your stuff. Everything was colorful, and you couldn't find your arm. Then the world changed. Forever.
I know my generation is supposed to be the world's foremost pack of drooling narcissists or whatever, but Jesus "David Crosby's Coke-Encrusted Mustache" Christ, boomers, you have got to be the most self-absorbed boring fucks since the first Thanksgiving (pass the appropriated corn!). I mean, Woodstock? Still? Woodstock in new, fictionalized formats? Surely we have the definitive Woodstock story already, called "all that footage we filmed at Woodstock." Surely you have done something since Woodstock that you would like to talk about. You are relevant. I believe in you.
At the very least, I can tell you what is not necessary, which is Ang Lee's new historicomedramaramedamedy, Taking Woodstock. Now, this Lee is a confusing fellow. He managed to bury any Hulk-fueled skepticism under an alp of goodwill thanks to Brokeback Mountain, a film with very few discernible flaws unless you are a raging homophobe (who might discern the homo-sex). But Taking Woodstock is just a big ball of bad ideas.
It's the story of Elliot Teichberg (Demetri Martin, peerlessly adorable), a shy, semicloseted aspiring interior designer trying to keep his parents' crumbling Catskills motel afloat. His mother (Imelda Staunton, all mesmerizing rage) is a money-grasping neurotic, and his father (Henry Goodman, defeat personified) is just waiting to die. Elliot, through circumstances involving paperwork, winds up inviting half a million beautiful and filthy hippies to his tiny town. And then the world changes. Forever.
I'm not saying that Woodstock-the-piece-of-cultural-history isn't interesting. Or important. But Taking Woodstock—stilted, artificial—certainly is neither. Lee's depiction expands even beyond the typical Woodstock clichés (mud, VW vans, special brownies) into an It's a Small World ride of everything that happened in the '60s: As Elliot walks through the crowds, he passes a draft-card-burning station, a brokebrained Vietnam vet, an SDS (or was it SNCC?) float, a booth of bra-burners (not real, you guys! Not a real thing!) screaming, "Burn 'em, sisters!" and much peace and jammin' and buckskin-clad people just yelling, "You've gotta join in demonstrations! Now!" Are you happy yet, baby boomers?