Becoming one with the bed. Helping to birth a calf. Hanging out with homeless people. Actors, musicians, and other celebrities share their sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant, and always out-there stories about their experiences on acid. Strap yourself in – it’s going to be a helluva trip.
One of the first lines in Have a Good Trip, delivered in typical deadpan by our narrator/part-time scientist(?) Nick Offerman, is ‘‘Drugs can be dangerous. But they can also be hilarious’’. That perfectly sums up the experience of watching Netflix’s new documentary; there is some attempt at seriously analysing the dangers (and benefits) of using psychedelics, but for the most part the celebrities’ sordid and sundry experiences are played for laughs. It’s likely the best-case scenario. Mind-altering drugs can be a divisive topic, depending on your background and whether you have used them (and had your own bad trip).
The film is mostly framed as a loose group of anecdotes from a range of celebrities, pieced together with Nick Offerman’s narration, a parody ‘After School Special’ drug PSA and some quotes from real scientists and psychologists. This is accompanied by beautiful animated visuals, the token geometric patterns and bright colours we associate with an acid trip. All rolled into one, this makes the documentary fun as well as mildly educational; but only mildly. Conflicting celebrity advice in the name of humour and the self-aware nature of Have a Good Trip means that practical advice is pretty hard to come by. Some of the celebrity’s accounts of how they managed their high directly contradict others; some loved the experience, and some hated it. This mix of different framing devices, stories, and animation styles makes for a trippy experience in and of itself. But this hodgepodge mix is both endearing and entertaining to no end.
The cast of celebrities regaling us with their acid trip tales is hugely impressive. From musician Sting to comedian Sarah Silverman to celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, Have a Good Trip is an impressive cross-section of American cultural icons. Their stories are generally delivered for humour (and are even funnier when paired with the trippy animated visuals), but there a few unexpected nuggets of wisdom in there. Bill Kreutzmann of the Grateful Dead warns us about psychedelics dosing while telling us about dancing sausages. Carrie Fisher, of Star Wars, talks about how acid helped her deal with her bipolar condition within a story about being nude at the beach. There are also a few horror stories thrown in, of bad trips and drug abuse, which help to balance out the film.
Overall, Have a Good Trip hits a happy medium between warning others of the ill effects of psychedelics and singing their praises. A bit more practical advice would have made the film stronger, but it’s too much fun to nit-pick seriously.
The film does what it says on the tin – it’s definitely a trip that’s more pleasure than business. 7/10.
Catch the documentary on Netflix today!