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Woodstock or Bust

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Woodstock or Bust Movie Poster Image
Road trip to '69 festival with sex, drugs, folk music.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Some teens are extremely irresponsible if left to themselves. Whatever is meant to be will be.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Two good friends support each other, are jealous of each other, get into adventures together.

Violence

A young man shoots himself in the big toe to get out of being drafted to the Vietnam War. A bloody bandage is seen. A boy tells of his older brother who was blown up in Vietnam. An adult locks a teenage girl in his garage and tries to have sex with her against her wishes. Someone hits him over the head with a tire iron to save the girl. It appears that a teen may have died of an overdose, but the kid wakes up.

Sex

Two teens kiss. A 17-year-old girl says she might have lost her virginity but can't remember if "he put it in" because she was too high. The girls take off their shirts, exposing bras, on a public street to change their clothes.  A girl reports on seeing a boy's "woodie." She says she hiked up her skirt and got on his lap. When men stop to pick up a hitchhiking teen, she asks if they are a "bunch of rapists."

Language

"S--t," "ass," "bitch," "hell," "butt," "damn," and "t-ts."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens consume marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, and LSD. Teens speak of throwing up after getting drunk. The use of LSD is glorified to some degree, as the 15-year-old and 17-year-olds who take the drug have a good time.  

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Woodstock or Bust follows two 17-year-old girls as they take a parentally unauthorized road trip from Oregon to the Woodstock music festival in the summer of 1969. The two folk-singing wannabes run into predictable hazards for naive and attractive young women, including a sexually predatory man. Marijuana, LSD, alcohol, and cigarettes are consumed by minors. Teens speak of throwing up after getting drunk. The use of LSD is glorified to some degree as the 15-year-old and 17-year-olds who take the drug have a good time. Teens kiss. One girl might have lost her virginity while she was high but can't remember. Language includes "s--t," "ass," "bitch," and "t-ts." A young man shoots himself in the big toe to get out of being drafted to the Vietnam War. A bloody bandage is seen. A boy tells of his older brother who was blown up in Vietnam. An adult locks a teenage girl in his garage and tries to have sex with her against her wishes. It appears that a teen may have died of an overdose, but then the kid wakes up.

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What's the story?

Lor (Willow Shields) is best friends with Mer (Meg DeLacy), who writes folkie tunes that they sing together in WOODSTOCK OR BUST. The pair get it into their heads that they'll gain fame and fortune if they can just make it from their Oregon hometown to the infamous New York music festival starting in a few days. Not only do both of their moms say no to the idea, but after they throw an unauthorized party with alcohol, the moms send them to Christian camp (even though Lor is Jewish) to help insure good behavior in a supervised atmosphere. The girls agree to go to camp and pack up Lor's Mustang for the trip, with the sneaky intention of heading to New York instead without telling their parents. Along the way, Lor is harassed by a mechanic, who opens her shirt and tries to rape her. When Lor tries to buy marijuana from a stranger in a park, he runs off with her money. Later she scores some pot and also LSD. The girls drink beer for breakfast on the road and, after making a stop, agree to party with Mick, a British exchange student (Teddy Van Ee) who feeds them LSD and may or may not have had sex with Mer. When it appears that Mick cannot be roused after a druggy night, Mer steals Lor's car and drives off with the body to get help, but is detained by the police for speeding. Mick turns out to be Nick, an American 15-year-old running away from tragedy at home. By now they are too late to make it to Woodstock, and the police allow the girls to drive Nick back home to Utah. Along the way, he reveals that he's lost his brother to the Vietnam War and is still in mourning. They stop at a mini music fest in Utah and all perform together, with Nick on drums.

Is it any good?

Nothing in Woodstock or Bust seems original, absorbing, or worth the effort it surely took to make this movie. Almost Famous, for one example, was a more emotionally true depiction of teen life in that era. While DeLacy and Shields seem competent, neither have much to work with in a script largely devoid of character development. What seems utterly unbelievable is that neither girl expresses any concern about the fact that by not showing up at the Christian camp, they will surely worry their parents, who are expecting them to arrive there. The anxiety this creates hangs over the plot and remains oddly unaddressed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the disparity between how 17-year-olds feel about their ability to function in the outside world and how little experience many actually have at that stage in life. How important is it that teens ask for advice from people who are older?

  • Does it seem realistic that both of the girls' parents allow their daughters to drive off to a summer camp on their own without requiring the girls to be in touch for days on end?

  • Does it feel as if the movie glorifies drug use, or do you think it presents what kids supposedly did in 1969 without judgment?

Movie details

For kids who love coming-of-age tales

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