Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
June 7, 2012
** (out of four)
Ah, there's nothing like a hookah session with grandma.
Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) and Jake (Nat Wolff) learn that from experience when they spend time in Woodstock with their mom Diane (Catherine Keener) and her mom Grace (Jane Fonda), who paints a naked dude named Jazz and refuses to name the chickens that roam around everywhere because “They're nature's children, not ours.” As Diane takes time away from the husband (Kyle MacLachlan) who just asked for a divorce, she and her kids encounter new romantic possibilities (with folks including Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chace Crawford) that teach them all to lighten up.
There's a difference between platitudes and poetry, though—something “PLAM” should know, considering how Zoe marvels that a butcher (Crawford) could also memorize Whitman—and this featherweight dramedy from director Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy”) engages largely in wretched lines like, “Did the patron saint of uptight just tell me to calm down?”
Though inferior to the easygoing charms of Ang Lee's “Taking Woodstock,” the movie's low-key vibe calms like a mild breeze, which is more than can be said for the documentary Jake makes by invading his family's privacy and using invasive footage without their consent. That doesn't quite mesh with simplistic notions of forgiveness that boil down to, “Everybody's trying, and if you want to be happy, be happy.”
Everyone wants to take a load off, Annie, but it's easier said than done.
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