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Netflix' documentary Have a Good Trip offers an insider's look at psychedelics 

Mixing humor and science, writer-director Donick Cary helms this documentary about both the potential therapeutic and recreational use of psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, DMT, and peyote. It explores the pros and cons, as well as the cultural impacts through interviews with celebrity users such as Sting, Rosie Perez, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Bourdain, Ben Stiller, Deepak Chopra, and others. (85 min).

click to enlarge MIND-EXPANDING TRAVELOGUE Natasha Leggero stars as Carrie Fisher in a re-enactment of Fisher's psychedelic trip that the actual Fisher recalls in Netflix's new documentary, Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NETFLIX
  • Photo Courtesy Of Netflix
  • MIND-EXPANDING TRAVELOGUE Natasha Leggero stars as Carrie Fisher in a re-enactment of Fisher's psychedelic trip that the actual Fisher recalls in Netflix's new documentary, Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics.

Glen As soon as Nick Offerman appears in his tan lab coat to explain and ins and outs of psychedelic substances, you know this documentary has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. Maybe that's the only way this topic could be approached, since magic mushrooms and LSD have been so thoroughly vilified in our culture even though they're essentially safe substances to use—non-addictive, difficult to overdose on, and physiologically benign. If you have even a cursory understanding of psychedelics, this documentary will have little to teach you, but as a piece of entertainment, it's pretty fun! Listening to Sting talk about delivering a breached calf while frying or Anthony Bourdain's Hunter S. Thompson-esque road trip story where he and a friend pick up a couple of female hitchhikers is a hoot. Aside from the proverbial "bad trip" story, these accounts are pretty standard "laughing our assess off over nothing" or "becoming one with the universe" affairs—common experiences for those who've dabbled in tripping.

Anna Rule No. 1 of tripping on acid—don't, under any circumstances, look in the mirror. Or maybe totally look in the mirror and enjoy a whirlwind trip through the beautiful veiny system pulsing just below your skin's surface. Depends on who you ask. Between accidental trips and very intentional ones, the slew of celebrities describes in great detail both the beauty and the dark side of turning your brain up to 11. There are faces you expect to see and some you don't, some there for a party and some looking for higher elevation. Psychedelics have been shown to have real medical value, especially in cases of PTSD, yet the taboo around them still holds strong. No one wants to have a bad trip, and while they are documented in this film, they aren't the norm. If you've tried psychedelics in the past, this will be a wholly relatable walk down memory lane, and if you haven't, it may be a good intro of real-life stories that will make the experience seem less scary. I definitely have a top 5 list of celebrities I want to get weird with thanks to this flick!

Glen Mom, if you're reading this, turn the page now! Being a regular tripper in my younger years, I could certainly relate to lot of what these folks were talking about—they describe the experience in vivid terms. When one interviewee mentioned Terry Gilliam's 1998 film based on Hunter S. Thompson's classic drug adventure book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as being the only film that "got it right" depicting what a hallucinating acid trip looked and felt like, I thought, "Yes! The film did get it right! The swirling carpet in a gaudy Vegas hotel was spot on!" If you're among the psychedelic uninitiated, watch that film, or this one, to get an idea of what it's like visually to trip out. If you want to see what a bad trip feels like check out Midsommar (2019). Toward its conclusion, the horror flick also does a good job depicting how everything seems to be alive and breathing when you're on psychedelics. I'm not sure if this documentary will persuade those fearful of acid and magic mushrooms that they're really no big deal, but it's nice to see the substances getting a little love instead of vilification. I mean, when Ben Stiller has to call his dad to confess he's tripping, you know LSD has gone one step closer to the mainstream.

Anna I remember being in the theater watching Midsommar and as the flowers start to breathe I thought, "Crap, am I accidentally tripping out?" Nah, just some clever visual effects from some people who clearly know what the experience is like. While there may not be a whole lot of substance here besides personal stories from celebs, I think the point of the film is to make it all relatable. Michael Pollan wrote How To Change Your Mind in 2018, a heady and wonderfully written deep dive into the world of psychedelics, micro-dosing, and the history behind it all. He also reads the audiobook if you're looking for something engaging to listen to during quarantine without committing to the read. I was laughing the entire time we watched this documentary, and with a varied and delightfully funny cast, it was just so much fun. I wasn't sure an hour and a half of trippy talk could pull it off, but it did. Δ

Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Split Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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