Review by EJ Argenio, NRFTW Contributor and Correspondent
In the words of Mr. Mackey, South Park’s fictitious elementary school guidance counselor, “drugs are bad.” Well, according to many stars of stage and screen, that statement is not entirely true. It’s not all bad. The real experiences and the real effects of hallucinogenic drugs as told by celebrities who have used them is what awaits you in Have A Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics.
Netflix’s newest drug documentary, written & directed by Donick Cary, does not condone or encourage drug use in any way. Let’s be clear about that before getting into anything else. The real dangers of this kind drug use are acknowledged from the start. There is no disputing that they exist. However, there is also a belief that drug use may also be hilarious. Have A Good Trip sets out to find the kind of person who would take a substance that they believed to be both dangerous and hilarious.
Cary and producer Mike Rosenstein spoke with an extensive list of celebrities including the likes of Sting, Sarah Silverman, Ben Stiller, Rosie Perez, A$AP Rocky, as well as the late Carrie Fisher and late Anthony Bourdain about the effects they experienced while tripping on psychedelics such as acid, mushrooms and peyote. At the heart of the film are stories of talking trees, rebellious acorns in Central Park, forgetting one’s own name in public, and sleeping on stage in the middle of a Grateful Dead concert.
Animated reenactments give these anecdotes life allowing audiences to visually participate in each shared experience while providing the film with a persona in the process. Incorporating the real world with the animated and discussing the impact of color and motion while tripping provides an additional level to the film’s storytelling.
Responsibly, Have A Good Trip also aims to educate. The film’s “scientist” (Nick Offerman) shares with us the do’s and don’ts when taking psychedelics. Each trip is different, and there is an importance of knowing certain trip-altering factors like staying at home or making sure you are with friends as opposed to strangers. We also learn the role that mindset has on your trip as discussed by Deepak Chopra. Finally, the significance of psychedelic use is also further explored when it comes to the treatment of mental conditions such as anxiety, depression or bi-polar disorder.
Have A Good Trip’s appeal comes from the shared experiences of celebrities. They are fun, unique and honest with similarities to Doug Benson’s documentary How High or Chelsea Handler’s episode on drugs in the Netflix docuseries Chelsea Does. This is a perfect documentary for those looking to go on a “trip” during quarantine. Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics entertains through good old-fashioned storytelling and is available to stream on Netflix right now.