Donick Cary’s Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics is by no means the first honest documentary about psychedelic drugs that exists, but it is probably the first to break rapidly into the mainstream. For so many people, this will be their first glance into this forbidden world, and most probably they will be left disappointed. The premise is a celebrity parade where well-known stars discuss their trip tales one after another, and if it wanted to be a ‘the-fun-side-of-drugs’ movie only, there would be no problem. However, it feels like it wants to venture further, but turns after two steps down every road it set off on.
In the trailer, celebrities from Sting to Reggie Watts confess feelings of the universe being cracked wide open, promising a glance into a type of enlightenment we did not know existed before – and those are the very things the movie most often glides over. It focuses almost entirely on recollections of wacky stories about stars’ trips with talking acorns, rainbows shooting out of cows, becoming one with sea kelp and the like.
For about thirty minutes we love this and want more. The stories are wild, the animations are blazing with colours, but at the same time, they all seem so innocent and light. However, I state thirty minutes as after this the stories become repetitive and wear thin with animations simply not funny enough to keep us stimulated.
Peppering this rainbow-coloured narrative are brief interjections from medical professionals that provide short educational bursts to the film. Author Deepak Chopra and UCLA professor of psychiatry Dr. Charles Grob feature to inform about the medical usage of hallucinogens in treatment of anxiety and substance abuse, and even the interviewed stars discuss concepts of mortality, security and connectedness impossible to grasp without drugs. On the cusp of more meaningful dialogue, Cary disappointingly turns the camera away, nonverbally screaming ‘never mind, let’s get back to the fun’.
In its conclusion, the movie, ironically or otherwise, seems to offer friendly instruction for future trippers in its featuring of vintage anti-drug campaigns. But other than giving somewhat obvious golden rules like ‘don’t drive on acid’, or ‘don’t look into the mirror’, the ads are inevitably lacking in revealing truly terrifying warnings such as avoiding dosing, jumping out windows, driving accidents. Such realities of the drug world are once again neglected or banalised. Cary is indeed giving a more liberal view of this ‘sin’, as seen by society, but choosing to entirely ignore the dangers it poses renders the film inaccurate.
Ultimately, Have a Good Trip has not succeeded in whatever it wanted to achieve. If it wanted purely to entertain and kill taboos with humour, it was definitely not funny enough. By not appreciating the majority of the audience are not familiar with this world, it lacks information. And finally, as a supposedly educational film, it does more harm than good by not taking real dangers seriously enough. Cary’s indecisiveness of style for the film has left it feeling hollow and unimpressive, much like a bad come down.
Image: via wajakaa.com