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.
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.
Can you dig it? Maybe, if you aren't already up to your tie-dyed shorts in Woodstock memories, and if you can accept that there's relatively little music in this happy-go-lucky movie about history's most celebrated music festival.
If you stick with this wistful, fitfully funny little trip, you will be rewarded with a movie that makes up in warmth, humanism and self-effacing modesty what it lacks in crackerjack pacing and epic pop-historical grandeur.
Even as a mind-clearing break from Lee's darker, more ambitious work, Taking Woodstock is an underachieving movie, so slight and gentle-spirited that it seems to be looking at the summer of 1969 through a scrim of rosy gauze.
Like the mild-mannered protagonist, Taiwanese director Ang Lee sees the '60s through a rose-colored telephoto lens, but his sympathetic spirit extends the generous message of the hippie era like a passed joint.
All the tie-dye, reefer, skinny-dipping, split-screen cinematography (from Eric Gautier) and acid-trip psychedelics courtesy of Tiber's encounter with hippies (Paul Dano and Kelli Garner) can't make up for the film's major sin of omission: the music.
You can't deny the smiling mood that wafts through the film like incense, and to that extent it honors the original three days; but not once does a character's show of feeling stir you, send you, or stop you in your tracks, and the loss is unsustainable.
It's a low-wattage film about a high-wattage event. Which is somewhat disappointing, though you do get a thoughtful, playful, often amusing film about what happened backstage at one of the '60s' great happenings.
A sort of let's-put-on-a-show summer-camp lark for director Ang Lee after the dramatic rigors of "Brokeback Mountain" and "Lust, Caution," the picture serves up intermittent pleasures but is too raggedy and laid-back for its own good.