Taking Woodstock Review
Take a stand-up comedian, and transport him back to a time before he was even born. Turn him into a young New Yorker struggling with both his recently discovered homosexuality and his parent’s collapsing “motel” in the Catskills.
The movie is based on a memoir written by Tiber, so naturally, the film is shown through his point of view. When Woodstock is thrown out of the nearby town Walkill, Elliott jumps on the oppurtunity and telephones organizer Michael Yang, who takes a helicopter to their tiny motel.
When its revealed that the Elliott’s El Monaco “Resort” does not have nearly enough space to hold the festival, Elliott introduces him to farmer Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy). Word gets out about this “small” festival, and the tiny town of Bethel, New York is soon filled with hundreds of thousands of young people coming to enjoy the experience.
The movie also features the brilliant Imelda Staunton as his neurotic, typical, Jewish mother, and Henry Goodman as his ailing father. Struggling to pay their mortgage, they eventually succumb to Elliot’s wishes to have the festival. As the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Elliott has the authority to grant himself the permit for the music festival, and being the only town in the area with that permit, Woodstock ends up based out of his own motel.
When Woodstock comes to his town, Elliott’s life begins to change. He meets “Velma”, a cross-dresser brilliantly portrayed by Liev Schriber, guides him on his way, and through his struggle with his homosexuality. When Elliott finally makes his way down to the actual festival, instead of the surrounding craziness, he misses a chance to see any musical acts.
Instead, he meets two people, with whom he enjoys his first acid trip, possibly the greatest scene in the movie (featuring one of the best lines, appendage-related). Over the course of the whole festival Elliott transforms himself, much like the real-life Tiber did.
And as Elliot transformed throughout the movie, so did the actor that portrayed him, Demetri Martin. The movie turns him from a mere stand-up comedian, to an actor with amazing potential to continue his career.
The visual effects are stunning, as is the subject matter (a behind-the scenes look at the formation of the festival, not just a documentary on the festival itself, which is what most people expected,) so it goes without saying that I recommend this movie to anyone, or at least anyone with an interest in music, culture, or the single greatest event of the century.