Netflix Reveals Celebrities’ Wildest Drug Trips, From Anthony Bourdain to Carrie Fisher
The new Netflix documentary “Have a Good Trip” features celebs telling their craziest drug-tripping stories. And it’s one hell of a ride.
For everyone forced by the COVID-19 pandemic into quarantine—either by themselves or with a select few loved ones—Netflix has become a vital means of (temporary) escape from reality. As if to enhance that role, the streaming service has now become a de facto advocate of traveling not outdoors but inward, via two offerings that directly target the psychedelic crowd: first, Pendleton Ward and Duncan Trussell’s trippy animated affair The Midnight Gospel, and now Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics, a documentary that investigates the varied experiences celebrities have had on acid, mushrooms and other hallucinogens—and the potentially therapeutic role they might one day play.
That latter angle comes courtesy of Dr. Charles Grob, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA who believes that there are many conceivable benefits to using psychedelics to treat individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD and other similar ailments. The fact that the FDA has recently approved studies along those lines suggests that Grob isn’t simply a counterculture outlier. Nonetheless, Have a Good Trip is at its dullest when attempting to make an actual argument for the societal benefits of mind-altering substances; no matter how promising their medicinal qualities may or may not be, the primary value of these drugs is the hysterically whacked-out stories that result from their consumption.
And thankfully, writer/director Donick Cary’s film has those in spades.
Premiering on Netflix on May 11, Have a Good Trip revolves around a series of interviews with well-known stars who’ve all tuned in and dropped out at one point in their lives, be it Ben Stiller, Natasha Lyonne, Sarah Silverman, Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz, Marc Maron, Paul Scheer, Rob Corddry, David Cross or My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. For some, like A$AP Rocky, who saw “A rainbow shot out of my dick” during sex on acid, the experience was euphoric and enlightening. For others, it was less so—for example, Rosie Perez, who was surreptitiously dosed at a crowded dance club and wound up losing her shirt while backstroking along a cascading wooden floor, and then merging with her bedroom mattress.
The traumatic and the riotous are often one and the same in these tales, as is generally true for those journeying through psychotropic realms. Thus, there’s no better summation of this non-fiction inquiry’s outlook than that provided by Nick Offerman, who—appearing as an educational video-style laboratory scientist—states, “Don’t get me wrong, drugs can be dangerous. But they can also be hilarious.”
Director Cary dramatizes his speakers’ anecdotes with Drunk History-esque recreations starring other notable comedians, and his film’s funniest accounts come from its two now-deceased participants: Anthony Bourdain and Carrie Fisher. The former recounts a Hunter S. Thompson-inspired road trip with a friend in which they picked up two beautiful hitchhikers, partied like crazy in a motel room, and then freaked out when one of the two women suddenly OD’d before their very eyes—only to magically awaken a few moments later, behaving as if nothing had happened. For Fisher, meanwhile, an afternoon at the beach during her Star Wars heyday turned sour when, while tripping, she was photographed by a group of Japanese tourists—all of whom got snapshots of Princess Leia zonked out of her mind and, like Perez, topless.
Have a Good Trip’s goofy formal flourishes don’t end with those reenactments, all of which are prefaced by swirly-colored title cards. Shouting out to the 1980s, a corny “LSD Afterschool Special” hosted by Adam Scott imagines a “Bad Trip” by a bunch of high-schoolers (including Haley Joel Osment and Maya Erskine), while “The More You Trip” segments educate viewers on the dos and don’ts of tripping. Those lessons involve the need to control your set and setting, and to avoid driving and looking into mirrors—advice that goes hand-in-hand with other handy tips about how best to handle a hallucinatory reverie, such as making sure you don’t do so when in a negative frame of mind, since acid, mushrooms and the like enhance unhealthy thoughts and emotions to possibly unnerving degrees.
Further embellishments include animation for sequences like Sting’s recollection of a deer blood-soaked Mexican peyote trip, and stuffy archival videos from the United States Navy about the dangers of LSD. The film has a cartoonish everything-and-the-kitchen-sink aesthetic approach that keeps the proceedings lighthearted, save for when Dr. Grob or Deepak Chopra appear to provide some drugs-are-actually-useful blather. Have a Good Trip makes a far more convincing case for the acceptability of acid and mushrooms through its loony celebrity commentary, which underlines that—contrary to common scare-tactic wisdom—such drugs are less apt to make you jump out a second-floor window than simply lead you on a crazed adventure that’s only as dangerous as you allow it to be.
Consequently, Sting’s ruminations on how psychedelics help him forge connections with himself, his loved ones and the universe are ultimately far less impactful than absurdist bits such as Nick Kroll being covered in kelp by his friends and then running around a beach pretending to be a Kelp Monster. Have a Good Trip doesn’t take its subject matter lightly, exactly—The Grateful Dead’s Bill Kreutzmann wisely cautions against “dosing” others without their knowledge, and A$AP Rocky is upfront about the fact that he doesn’t encourage everyone to give psychedelics a try, because some simply aren’t cut out for them. Yet through its raft of narratives, it does demystify these drugs, casting them as consciousness-altering elements that are frequently great fun, occasionally big-time bummers, but always far from the insanity-inducing menace they’ve been thought of by the public at large.
Does this mean Have a Good Trip will encourage those who are on the fence to give acid or mushrooms a try? Possibly. But the real fun of Cary’s documentary is the vicarious thrill that comes from hearing how others fared, for good or ill, while tripping their balls off in less-than-ideal circumstances. Although watching it while under the influence will no doubt also be amusing—if, that is, such hallucinating viewers can first manage to stop staring intensely at their hands.