Movie Review: “Always Woodstock”

1half-starwood1Only the faintest echo of hippy magic clings to “Always Woodstock,” a romantic-comedy-with-music set in the storied village where all that musical and cultural history was made on Yasgur’s Farm over half a century ago.
“Always” is about Catherine, a perky record company publicist (Allison Miller of TV’s “Selfie”), fired from “wrangling” a difficult Brit DJ-starlet (Brittany Snow). As she stumbles in on her self-absorbed actor-fiance (Jason Ritter) having sex with his dialect coach, this might be a good time for Catherine to return to her original life plan.
She wanted to be a singer-songwriter. The best place to do that? The old family homestead, which is not nearly as grand as it sounds. It’s a rundown, character-free ranch-style tucked away in Woodstock, New York, where musicians and artists linger, decades after Dylan, The Band and the crowds that came to that famous music festival left.
“In Woodstock,” Catherine narrates, “you can plant a daisy, and out pops a rose.”
There’s a sassy bartender (Rumer Willis) and a local barn converted into a music hall. If only Catherine can avoid getting drunk, singing karaoke and falling for a local doctor (James Wolk) long enough to write the songs that will get her signed to a record deal.
Fat chance. Their “attraction” is solely based on the requirements of the script, as is the record deal.
A little icing on this Rice Krispie Treat of a comedy — Katey Sagal, sitcom actress and singer, plays Lee Ann, once a famous singer-songwriter, now a cafe owner who doesn’t perform any more. She gets all the sage lines of advice that Lee Ann gives to Catherine.
The kid is thinking of selling out, but honey, “You are so much better than what just came out of your mouth.”
The kid has a past, maybe she should use it in song.
“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”
Ritter makes an amusing impression in his scenes — vain, dopey, weeping hysterically after sex. Miller isn’t without her charms, working a line like “I’m on a little thing called ‘The Rebound'” nicely.
Mostly, though, “Always Woodstock” is as instantly forgettable as the pleasant but unremarkable tunes Miller, Sagal and assorted soundtrack artists sing during the film.

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MPAA Rating: unrated, with profanity, sex, a little violence
Cast: Allison Miller, Katey Sagal, Jason Ritter, Rumer Willis, James Wolk
Credits: Written and directed by Rita Merson. A Gravitas release.
Running time: 1:32

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