No matter what your parents or school might tell you, drugs will never be not cool. As we’re approaching the would-be festival season of 2020, we’re left with the bittersweet memories of getting drunk and/or high, be it at a concert or at our friend’s garden cookout. Have a Good Trip, a recent Netflix documentary, came seemingly at the ideal time to cash in on this.
For Adventures in Psychedelics, director Donick Cary gets together an ensemble of famous faces to talk about their trips on LSD. The documentary features just about anyone who you’d think would have an amazing story about psychedelics, from the recently deceased Carrie Fisher to the rapper A$AP Rocky. Oddly enough, however, the film doesn’t even mention the Argentine director Gaspar Noé, famous for taking various drugs during his filmmaking process.
Essentially, you’re watching a bunch of celebrities share their stories of LSD, the quality of which varies. The film animates each experience as it’s shared with the audience, but safe for a few exceptions the animation is incredibly dull and stiff for these supposedly insane trips. To make this more interesting, Have a Good Trip has a few interludes sprinkled across the runtime, which are poking fun at the educational videos and uneducated prejudices of the past. This is where the creators let their comedy writing shine, as these sections are by far the most interesting parts of the film. It’s a shame that Adventures in Psychedelics didn’t lean more in this direction, becoming a ‘pro-drug’ educational program.
There is a lot of unused comedic potential in a film like this and during its best parts, the film almost ceases to be a documentary in favour of being a comedy. Most of the time is spent on the fairly entertaining recountings of various LSD trips and overall positive stories. Eventually the film tries to get darker, but even the bad trips and downsides of the drug are presented with lightness, lacking any real weight.
Anyone who’s honestly interested in the workings of psychedelic substances better go and read a Wikipedia page, as Have a Good Trip has little to no ambition in educating the viewer. The topic is treated in a very shallow way, never going beyond the stereotypical “oh yeah it’s crazy, I’m tripping”, that feels just unnecessary. And if the intention behind was just pure entertainment, Adventures in Psychedelics would have worked way better as a Netflix show made up of 15-20 minute episodes. The structure of the film makes it feel as if you’re binging already.
Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics is a great Sunday afternoon, background noise type of film. Due to the shallow dive the film takes it’s not enlightening in any way and the bland animation does little to make the trips seem appealing, or at least interesting, in any type of way. Yes, drugs are cool. But Netflix’s latest tries just a bit too hard to capitalise on that.