The story of how Elliot Tiber, an artist with a failing hotel in upstate New York, used his permit for a small music and theater festival to help make Woodstock happen is a synchronous instance worthy of big-screen treatment.

The story of how Elliot Tiber, an artist with a failing hotel in upstate New York, used his permit for a small music and theater festival to help make Woodstock happen is a synchronous instance worthy of big-screen treatment.

In Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock, it provides the basis for a look behind the scenes of the historic three-day festival and a small sense of the experience of the event through the eyes of those who were there - too small, unfortunately.

Demetri Martin is Elliot, who's been spending his time and money keeping the hotel run by his parents (Henry Goodman and a bull-like Imelda Staunton) afloat. The only signs of the times there are Elliot's longish hair and the experimental theater troupe living in the family's barn, until Elliot reaches out to Woodstock promoter Michael Lang (Jonathan Groff) after a nearby town revokes its welcome. Their arrangement soon attracts a sea of hippie revelers.

The actual logistics of the event are fascinating, and it brings together some interesting characters like Lang, played by Groff as a constantly roaming source of calming, centered energy, and Liev Schreiber's Vilma, a pistol-packing, cross-dressing ex-Marine who provides the hotel with security.

None of the more prominent characters are nearly as enjoyable as these two, and they're not much more developed. Elliot's overwhelmed innocence is played often for laughs, but his awakening comfort with his homosexuality is treated like an afterthought. His hokey relationship with his parents builds toward a climax, but ends up flattening out.

As written by James Schamus, each player is filled out just enough to create an efficient checklist of key experiences for Lee to capture: the brown acid, the good trip, the peace-sign-waving nuns, the couple tangling in the bushes and, of course, the mud. The result feels less like the experience of Woodstock and more like a theme park simulation.