A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Have A Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics is a 2020 documentary in which celebrities share their stories of taking psychedelic drugs. Throughout the movie, the documentary satirizes the overblown rhetoric and unintentionally hilarious melodrama of the anti-drug after-school specials of the 1970s and 1980s. The possible negative effects of long-term hallucinogenic drug use are glossed over and lost in comedy bits about what not to do while high on LSD or psilocybin mushrooms, and scientists discuss the potential positive benefits of hallucinogenic drugs on those with mental and/or terminal illness. For impressionable teens, these celebrity coming-of-age anecdotes from Sting, Anthony Bourdain, Sarah Silverman, Carrie Fisher, and many more are likely to be perceived as glamorizing the use of hallucinogenic drugs, even the tales of bad trips. Some stories center on trying to drive while under the influence of drugs. Profanity throughout, including "f--k" used on a regular basis. A rapper discusses having sex while on LSD, and how he saw "a rainbow [shoot] out of my d--k."
What's the story?
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS presents an all-star cast of comedians, musicians, actors, and television hosts sharing their experiences with psychedelic drugs. Sting, Carrie Fisher, Ben Stiller, Sarah Silverman, Anthony Bourdain, David Cross, ASAP Rocky, and others discuss moments (often coming-of-age moments) from the good and bad trips they've had while under the influence of LSD or psilocybin mushrooms. These testimonials are interspersed with parodies of the overblown melodrama of the anti-drug after-school specials of the 1970s and 1980s. While the stories are usually funny, especially when discussing potentially horrific moments either real or imagined while under the influence of these drugs, the documentary also discusses the more recent efforts of behavioral scientists and alternative medicine advocates to explore the benefits of psychedelic drugs for those suffering from mental illness or terminally ill patients.
Is it any good?
Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics is a glimpse into the insights, horror stories, and entertaining anecdotes of many celebrities and their experiences with psychedelic drugs. While comedians constitute the vast majority of those telling the stories, this documentary also offers perspectives from Sting, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Bourdain, and ASAP Rocky. The documentary is interspersed with parodies of the overblown "Just Say No" after-school specials of the 1980s (with Adam Scott as the "with it adult" trying to relate to the teens), and for the parents and adults who lived through that time, the accuracy of these parodies is as disconcerting as it is incredibly funny.
This is obviously not a documentary for everyone, and certainly not for kids. Those who believe Nancy Reagan was correct in her "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign aren't likely to be change their mind (assuming they would ever watch this in a million years), and those who have witnessed first-hand the less glamorous effects of long-term drug use and addiction aren't likely to make the distinction between the psychedelic drugs championed in this documentary and drug use and abuse in a more general sense. While the documentary is spot-on in its mockery of the myriad "acid trip" cliches in movies and television (i.e. "Arrrrrrrrre youuuuuu ohhhhhkayyyyyy" spoken by a character in a slowed-down voice), any possible negative consequences are glossed over.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the attitudes, opinions, and insights discussed throughout the movie. What do you think is the overall takeaway from the documentary? What might be a counterargument to any of these views?
Unlike many movies in which drug use is front and center, those interviewed aren't remorseful or contrite about their experiences with hallucinogenic drugs. Does this glamorize drug use? Does the documentary gloss over the possible negative effects of psychedelic drugs, or are the stories of "bad trips" an argument against the viewer following the examples of the celebrities being interviewed?
How does the movie use satire to poke fun at the prevailing attitudes and beliefs of the "Just Say No" culture of the 1980s? What are some other examples of ways in which satire is used to make serious arguments?
What are the consequences of drug use?
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