The Films of 2020: Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics (dir by Donick Cary)

Since this Netflix documentary features people talking about their experiences with hallucinogens, I debated whether or not I should begin this review by discussing my own limited experience with psychedelics.  I went back and forth on whether or not to write about it.  It’s not that I feel any shame about having “experimented.”  Instead, it’s just that my experiences were all so damn boring.

I mean, which one should I tell you about?  Do you want to hear about the time that I went to the mall and I marveled at how all of the shoppers seemed to be moving at a different speed than me?  How about the time that I was sitting in a lecture and the professor’s voice kept getting really loud and then really soft?  Maybe I could tell you about the time my friends and I were driving around the Texas countryside and I kept seeing the same man standing on the side of every single road, watching us as we drove by?  He was wearing a black trenchcoat and a black cowboy hat and I was convinced that he was Death….

(Okay, that last experience was kinda freaky.)

Have A Good Trip is a film about people discussing their experiences with hallucinogens and some of them had more interesting experiences than I did.  Of course, all of the people who were interviewed were celebrities.  Sting talks about helping a cow give birth while tripping on peyote.  Lewis Black talks about doing acid and then forgetting his name.  Sarah Silverman recounts how she and a friend did acid and then ended up befriending a bunch of homeless people.  In interviews recorded before their death, Carrie Fisher and Anthony Bourdain both discuss their LSD experiences.  Probably the best story comes from Ben Stiller, who called his father during his first (and it’s implied only) acid trip.  Jerry Stiller is described as being very understanding, which is sweet.  “I know what you’re going through,” Jerry says, “I smoked a Pall Mall cigarette once and was sick for days.”

Have a Good Trip is 100% pro-hallucinogenic drug, which gives it a nice subversive feel.  The film humorously dramatizes the drug stories, sometimes with animation and sometimes by hiring other celebrities to play the celebrities telling their story.  In between the celebs, we get an interview with a researcher who explains how hallucinogenics can be used to help people dealing with depressing and anxiety.  The film doesn’t downplay the fact that bad trips happen but, at the same time, it also makes a convincing argument that the dangers have been overstated.

Yet, I have to admit that Have A Good Trip is never quite as much fun as you’re hoping it’ll be.  I think part of the problem is that most of the celebrities interviewed in the film are exactly who you would expect to interviewed in a film like this.  I mean, learning that Sarah Silverman, Judd Nelson, and Lewis Black have tried acid is not exactly an earth-shattering discovery.  When you’re watching a documentary in which celebrities talk about their drug experiences, you want to be surprised.  You want to see or hear about someone who you’re not expecting to see or hear about.  You want to hear about the time that the cast of Saved By The Bell went on a six-day coke binge in Vegas.  Learning that peyote makes Sting somehow even more pretentious just doesn’t have the same subversive bite as hearing from someone who you wouldn’t normally expect to have any good drug stories.

Anyway, Have a Good Trip is an amusing film, even if it’s never quite as subversive as it thinks it is.  It’s currently on Netflix.

2 responses to “The Films of 2020: Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics (dir by Donick Cary)

  1. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 9/14/20 — 9/20/20 | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 9/7/20 — 9/13/20 | Through the Shattered Lens

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