A near great movie about a far-out time

Set in drug-infested 1969, "Taking Woodstock" portrays how the sleepy little town of Bethel, NY is turned upside down overnight by a young man named Elliott Tiber (Demetri Martin), who organized one of the most memorable events in 20th century America, the music festival called Woodstock. The movie follows the roots of Woodstock pretty well, but the producers spice it up a bit by adding a comical Jewish couple, Elliott’s mother and father, who happen to be operating a run-down motel smack dab in the middle of the Cultural Revolution exploding outside their window.

A strain of characters appear as the movie progresses that poke fun at the stereotypical people associated with the 1960s, ranging from a paranoid ex- soldier straight out of Vietnam (Emile Hirsh), to a very avant-garde dance troupes who call themselves "The Earthlight Players." "Taking Woodstock" also does a nice job of trying to incorporate the actual people, who back in the late 60’s, helped to make the real Woodstock possible. This includes the laid-back, peace loving Michael Lang (Jonathon Groff) and the dairy farmer (Eugene Levy) who went against the entire community’s opinions and agreed to host Woodstock.

The movie does a fine job at showing what it would have been like to be at Woodstock. Demetri Martin steals the show, as the film mostly focuses on his crazy adventures. He single-handedly causes the town to hate him for bringing all the "crazy hippies" into their remote, simple lives. He then ventures out into the Woodstock grounds where the he finds a couple that introduce him to LSD, a highly popular drug at the time. "Taking Woodstock" does a pretty detailed job of portraying what a "trip" would actually feel like. For several minutes the film shows the effects of acid, including swirling colors and hallucinations through the eyes of Elliot.

The film does not include any footage of performances or even bands on stage, which is disappointing; however, the soundtrack includes Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, and The Doors, as well as other Woodstock related musicians.

Eventually the movie wraps up with the cameras zooming out across the vast wasteland of mud, garbage, and thousands of happy souls packing up and truckin’ up to the next show. "Taking Woodstock" was indeed a summer flick worth watching and really helps to capture the essence of the three days of peace and music that happened decades ago.