Review: Netflix’s Have A Good Trip taps into the psychedelic resurgence

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HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS (Nick Offerman, Adam Scott). 85 minutes. Now streaming on Netflix Canada. Rating: NNN


Netflix’s Have A Good Trip: Adventures In Psychedelics made me laugh. It also made me crave for a mushroom experience.

It’s been a while since the top of my head has been peeled back and opened up to all the wonders a psychedelic trip can bring. The effects can be life-changing. And what better time for a consciousness-raising experience than during a pandemic that’s messing with the nature of our existence?

As former Police front man Sting says to open the film, psychedelics may not be the answer to all that ails the planet, but they may be a good start. Yup.

Other notables, including Anthony Bourdain, Ben Stiller, Carrie Fisher, A$AP Rocky, Carrie Fisher, Lewis Black, Rosie Perez and (the proverbial) “many more,” share stories of their first psychedelic trips, both good and bad with directors, hosts and narrators Nick Offerman and Adam Scott.

Their journeys offer some insightful – and hilarious – moments.

Comedian Sarah Silverman describes hooking up some homeless folks in a New York bar and taking them back to her place to party before she realized what she was doing. Her advice: don’t drop and drive.

Perez talks about doing the backstroke on the dance floor at an after-hours club, marvelling at the beauty of her breasts and then being swallowed by her bed. A$AP says a rainbow shot out his penis (I won’t tell you what he was doing at the time). Black forgot who he was and when he checked his wallet to find out, a whole bunch of monopoly cards spilled out. Sting help birth a cow on his farm while on peyote, which is about as close as you can get to the meaning of the universe.

My first acid trip wasn’t so memorable. In fact, it was no trip at all. The LSD a friend scored (White Lightening, or some such) proved a dud. I’d heard all the stories about expecting to fly. Nothing happened, unlike that time in Oakland at a Dead show when some cat sitting in the same section as a friend and I turned us on to some still in liquid form. But that’s another story.

On the other hand, my first mushroom experience (they were South American and stinky as the devil’s breath), was life-altering. Which is to say that the insights derived from the trip stayed with me long after the high wore off. I can still remember the hue of dark red on those blacktops.

Scientists have known about the residual effects of psychedelics for decades, ever since, in fact, Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD all the way back in 1943, and accidentally absorbed the drug through his fingertips while messing around in a lab somewhere in Switzerland. (If you haven’t read the Omni magazine feature I highly, er, recommend it). Hofmann was also the first to synthesize and identify psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.

Hofmann described LSD as “the sacred drug” and “medicine for the soul.” And it is. After his discovery, the drug would be used successfully in psychoanalysis for more than a decade, even while it was legally prohibited. Hofmann would continue to experiment with its effects, taking the drug in small doses for much of his life. Dude lived till he was 102.

Governments, on the other hand, are just coming back around to the idea of psychedelics as medicine. After spending the better part of the last century trying to scare the shit out of us about the certain near-death potential effects, they’re opening up to the brain chemistry altering properties of psychedelics. Magic mushrooms, in particular, are being fast-tracked for clinical trials by the FDA for treating clinical depression and addiction today and being used to relieve anxiety among terminally ill cancer patients. In Canada, we’re well on our way to seeing psychedelics enter the legal market with micro-doses of mush already available online.

But back to Netflix’s take. While the documentary’s playful treatment – especially the After School Special-themed “Bad Trip” segments – offers moments of levity, there are two crucial pieces of advice missing.

The first is, know what it is that you are taking. It’s always best to get a read from a friend who has already taken whatever it is you are about to drop. This way you can know what to expect. The second is never to get high alone. Ideally, there should always be someone with you that can talk you through darker detours that may appear on your journey. Consider these your psychedelic commandments.

@enzodimatteo