And proves musicians are better at drugs than comedians
Rapper A$AP Rocky has one of the most memorable stories in the new Netflix documentary, “Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics.”
He warns us that the anecdote is “a bit vulgar and raunchy,” and goes on to describe an amorous evening with an unnamed woman while tripping on LSD for the first time.
Although his experience is indeed unique, the coda to the story sounds more commonplace: “I woke up the next day,” A$AP says, “and told the homie, I say ‘Yo, I know what the answer to life is. It’s to love each other’.”
After a beat A$AP continues, “And he was like, ‘Word’.”
“Have a Good Trip” is largely a collection of famous people sharing their experiences with hallucinogens, and A$AP Rocky is probably the youngest celebrity, at thirty-one years of age. Most of the stories come from Gen X comedians, including Sarah Silverman, David Cross, Nick Offerman, Mark Maron, Nick Kroll, Rob Corddry and Reggie Watts, which makes sense, because the movie was created by fellow Gen Xer Donick Cary, who has written for a string of hit shows including “Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Simpsons” and “Parks and Recreation.”
Some of the stories are illustrated in lovely, trippy animation, while others benefit from live-action skits.
The project was reportedly assembled over 11 years, and that explains why it includes two noteworthy A-list celebs — Anthony Bourdain and Carrie Fisher — who haven’t been alive for a couple of years.
Nick Offerman, dressed as a scientist in a white lab coat, serves as the film’s sort-of host in a sort-of laboratory. He explains, “Don’t get me wrong, drugs can be dangerous … but they can also be hilarious.” And for the most part, the anecdotes don’t disappoint.
It’s interesting that two musicians, A$AP Rocky and mega-rock-star Sting, both manage to shine among this collection of professional storytellers. Sting in particular comes off as a veteran psychedelic’s enthusiast. While admitting that he’s had many “bad trips,” Sting offers, “you can get immensely rewarding experiences.”
Another way in which the movie hints at its target demographic are the mock PSAs — called “The More You Trip” — which are sprinkled throughout, along with parodies of those melodramatic anti-drug After-School Specials which haven’t been released in the last quarter century. There are even a few “This is your brain on drugs” jokes that must leave millennials scratching their heads (Google it).
Although most of the stories cast psychedelics in a good light, there are some exceptions. Anthony Bourdain’s tale includes a harrowing overdose, while Ben Stiller’s story describes a descent into paranoia and anxiety. “I took acid once,” Stiller reports. “Maybe even didn’t need to.”
“Have a Good Trip” offers up some tips for having a good trip that range from the obvious: “don’t do acid and drive” — to useful: “control your set (people you’re with) and setting” — to contradictory: alternately “don’t look in the mirror” and “do look in the mirror.” Of course, all this advice is delivered with mock-educational earnestness.
In terms of real education, the film seems to have only modest ambitions. Deepak Chopra, Zach Leary (Timothy’s son), and Dr. Charles Grob make appearances to provide a more sober look at the potential benefits of psychedelics. Dr. Grob, a psychedelic researcher and professor of psychiatry at UCLA, offers perhaps the movie’s most important message, even if it’s not the most prominent.
“I think it was a shame that the prior generation of psychedelic investigators were abruptly stopped in their tracks,” Dr. Grob laments, “because they were on to some very important discoveries, and they were developing new treatment models we feel today should still be explored.”
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