Taking Woodstock is Ang Lee's third movie to focus on a gay man and while that storyline certainly isn't as central to the plot as it is in The Wedding Banquet or Brokeback Mountain, it isn't quite as de-gayed as some reviews have implied. Based on Elliot Tiber's memoir of his role in making the 1969 happening happen, the movie has a nice vibe of beautiful youthquake shaking up a sleepy little town and awakening in particular the repressed Elliot and his depressed father. High points are Imelda Staunton as his difficult mother and Tony-nominated twenty-four year-old Jonathan Groff [center] as festival organizer Michael Lang. Eugene Levy, Liev Schreiber, and Paul Dano are typically okay. Unfortunately, the script toggles between the amateur and the awful. Constant collaborator and frequent screenwriter James Schamus may or may not be a great producer but he's no Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry. His big domestic story thread breaks climaxes with this exchange reprinted in full:
"I love her."
All the characters are underdeveloped, none worse so than Emile Hirsch's Billy, who suffers from Vietnam flashbacks and high school dialogue. Notably, every one of Ang Lee's missteps credits Schamus with screenwriting: Ride with the Devil, Hulk, and Lust, Caution, while only two of his successes do: The Ice Storm and -- shared with two other writers -- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. [And yes, the girl in the hat is Meryl Streep's daughter Mamie Gummer.]