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Taking Woodstock (2009)



Average Rating: 5.4/10
Reviews Counted: 178
Fresh: 85 | Rotten: 93

Featuring numerous 60s-era clichés, but little of the musical magic that highlighted the famous festival, Taking Woodstock is a breezy but underwhelming portrayal.


Average Rating: 5.1/10
Critic Reviews: 48
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 31

Featuring numerous 60s-era clichés, but little of the musical magic that highlighted the famous festival, Taking Woodstock is a breezy but underwhelming portrayal.



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Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 252,184

My Rating

Movie Info

It's 1969, and Elliot Tiber, a down-on-his-luck interior designer in Greenwich Village, New York, has to move back upstate to help his parents run their dilapidated Catskills motel, The El Monaco. The bank's about to foreclose; his father wants to burn the place down, but hasn't paid the insurance; and Elliot is still figuring how to come out to his parents. When Elliot hears that a neighboring town has pulled the permit on a hippie music festival, he calls the producers, thinking he could drum


Drama, Musical & Performing Arts, Comedy

James Schamus

Dec 15, 2009


Focus Features - Official Site External Icon

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November 13, 2009:
James Schamus talks Taking Woodstock - RT Interview
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All Critics (178) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (85) | Rotten (93) | DVD (8)

This may be a minor movie, but it displays the hallmarks of a major talent.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Too much of Taking Woodstock seems barely sketched out.

August 28, 2009 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Comment (1)
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's harmless enough as a snapshot of a young man's awakening to the grand possibilities of adult life, but not particularly effective at capturing the spirit, the thrill or even the mud of this culturally monumental event.

August 28, 2009 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is very light material, and, unusually for a Lee picture, not everybody in the ensemble appears to be acting in the same universe, let alone the same story. On the other hand: It's fun.

August 28, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Taking Woodstock has the appeal of an inside story told from an especially good angle. But beyond that, the movie is a celebration of the way this event has gone into memory and of the meaning it has acquired.

August 28, 2009 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's great that Taking Woodstock doesn't trample on anything sacred, but it also never arrives anywhere interesting.

August 28, 2009 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Some colorful character turns cannot make up for the charisma void at the center that is Martin.

January 25, 2014 Full Review Source:

Does a great job of recreating the time, place and people that came together to make something magical in the middle of the summer of 1969.

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: American Profile
American Profile

A valentine to America.

August 29, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

A ham-handed attempt to indicate the oncoming tragedy of Altamont ends the film with a touch of contrivance, but it's the only sour note in an otherwise flawless film.

February 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

Amazing that Ang Lee can make such a listless movie about arguably one of the most high energy times in recent history.

January 4, 2010 Full Review Source:

An interesting idea, but it doesn't really have much to capitalize on outside of the authentic period reproduction.

December 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

Watch carefully as the film tries to ramrod too many themes, invoking split-screen technique, and see if you can identify how often self-indulgence is confused for enlightenment.

December 6, 2009 Full Review Source:

Não se revela particularmente interessante ou minimamente revelador no que diz respeito à natureza de Woodstock ou do próprio protagonista.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

A minor work from Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee that is enjoyable but ultimately underwhelming.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

Achieves the highly improbable by making one of the most exciting events of the 1960s look really boring.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4

A rare misfire for the usually reliable Lee.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

Taking Woodstock is entertaining, funny but also very slight film. Unlike the real Woodstock, it won't change lives or burn in the memory.

November 13, 2009 | Comment (1)
Little White Lies

his is by no means a terrible film, but from a filmmaker as exceptional as Ang Lee it's a rare disappointment.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Digital Spy
Digital Spy

Taking Woodstock will leave the unstoned cold and won't have anyone aching for those legendary 'three days of peace and music' that wasn't there in the first place.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

Some will revel in it, but (younger) viewers may find Taking Woodstock old hat.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Ang Lee's latest dissection of the American dream is one of his most complex and even most deceptively subversive films.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Uncut Magazine [UK]
Uncut Magazine [UK]

Their roles are played largely for easy laughs in James Schamus's script, which meanders in an echo of the freewheeling vibe of peace and love.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Undermining the entire snooze-fest is Lee and Schamus's sentimental, clichéd view of Woodstock as the last flowering of hippie innocence.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

Ang Lee's attempt to put the Swinging Sixties on the screen with love, respect and a dash of humour is a distinct disappointment.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Audience Reviews for Taking Woodstock

Taking Woodstock start interesting, but went the film begings to show the festival, Woodstock stay disagreeably sweet and presents a not so good screenplay, featuring some cliches. Don't focus really on the festival, showing just the making off. Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock is disappointing. Rotten.
June 12, 2014
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock is based on the true story of Elliot Teichberg, one of the organizers of the Woodstock festival. Considering the legendary festival in music history, you'd expect something great right. The result is a good film that could have been done better. The film is entertaining with a good cast of varied talent and it's actually quite awesome to see such an iconic moment in music history come to life. This is a stunning look at what went behind the scenes about how Teichberg organized this incredible festival. I really loved the film, and though it's far from perfect, it's a must see movie for those who enjoy a fine comedy drama film that is based on real events. The story is good and the film has spirit and manages to overcome its imperfections by its good cast, its story and effective directing from Ang Lee. Lee manages to convey a good experience with this outing, and it is an entertaining drama that relies on a true story to captivate the viewer. At times though, the film does become a bit too preachy and tiresome. Luckily it does pick up in a few areas and there are plenty of good comedy bits with the drama and the film gives us a taste of what it was like during that time. Taking Woodstock is a film that could have been done better, but it nonetheless is a memorable comedic drama that relies on a good story and effective cast to overcome its shortcomings. Ang Lee, who I'm not too much of a fan, give the film soul and it ends up being a fun experience.
March 17, 2013
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

I'm starting to lose count on the amount of times director Ang Lee has tackled a new genre. He's done martial arts; comic-book; thriller; romance; family drama; westerns and literary adaptation. Now? Well now, he's tackles the story of how the legendary music festival "Woodstock" came to be.
Elliot Teichberg (Demetri Martin) discovers that a music festival near his family's motel has lost its licence. Trying to save his parents' business, he calls Woodstock Ventures and offers to help them stage the gig at a farm in White Lake. What happens after that, has now went down in history as a legendary free-spirited musical weekend.
Anyone trying to craft a film worthy of the magic of Woodstock would have their work cut out for them, so wisely Ang Lee focuses on the outskirts of the infamous hippie festival of the 60's. Instead of focusing on the bands or what was happening on stage, we experience the effect this time had on the people off stage, through several characters - mainly Elliot and his right of passage. It's a light-hearted little film that is very slow to get going and definitely overlong. The talky first half is all about the organisation and chance encounter with promotors. This threatens to kill this whole film but when the festival gets underway, the second half is a lot stronger as the characters begin to loosen up. It sheds a bit of light on the effect this time and place had, but really there isn't a lot else happening. Maybe it would have been better had the focus been on stage. What I found most interesting was the depiction of Elliot when high on acid. Speaking from personal experience, it's the most realistic depiction of hallucinating I've seen on screen. It's not overdone but shows more the vibrancy of colours as they move and bleed into one another and the almost ocean like movement of a large crowd of people when dancing together. Wow, It took me back man.
You would think with this depicting a defining moment in the whole 60's 'movement', it would have something more than a very lesuirely pace. However, when the drugs and music start to flow, the film flows with them. Disappointing but it has it's moments.
March 28, 2011

Super Reviewer

Lee's film manages to capture the groovy vibe of the famous festival, although it doesn't quite develop the protagonist very well and isn't much revealing about the musical magic of Woodstock itself. The result is enjoyable yet rather underwhelming.
May 19, 2010

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Hotel Woodstock (FR)
  • Destino: Woodstock (ES)
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