Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics
*** Most people agree you don’t have to take acid to find out what it’s like—countless song lyrics, at least one adventurous friend, or even Google will tell you all you need to know. Donick Cary’s Netflix doc uses a treasure trove of celebrities to go into more detail, allowing the subjects to spin funny anecdotes about how cool, singular and harmless LSD trips really are. Although Have a Good Trip aims for lighthearted entertainment rather than presenting a scientific thesis, you walk away feeling like it might be safe to give it a try—or give it a second go. As stars like A$AP Rocky, David Cross and Ben Stiller describe themselves tripping balls, revue-style reenactments and ’60s album cover-inspired animation play on the screen. The now-deceased Carrie Fisher and Anthony Bourdain have some of the more memorable stories, the latter’s involving a road trip, shrooms and an almost-dead stripper. Nick Offerman serves as host, wearing a lab coat while explaining, “Don’t get me wrong, drugs can be dangerous. But they can also be hilarious.” A couple slow sections aside, Cary’s directorial debut passes the acid test with flying colors. TV-MA. ASHER LUBERTO. Netflix.
** Maggie Sherwood (Dakota Johnson) has hit a wall in her job as a personal assistant. After several years of mindless errands for her boss/hero, superstar Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Motown singer Diana Ross), Maggie can no longer repress her aspirations to become a music producer. But backlash from Davis’ manager (Ice Cube) and the intimidating statistic that just 2.1 percent of music producers are women threaten to dash her dreams. What anchors the film is the romance between Maggie and her client David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Johnson expertly blurs the line between confident and terrified, while Harrison’s smooth-talking musician harbors a sweetly nervous side, alchemizing some lovely chemistry. Though bogged down by clichéd dialogue and a wonky twist, Flora Greeson’s script deserves credit for being one of the few stories about the music industry told from a strictly female perspective. This is familiar territory for director Nisha Ganatra, who also helmed 2019’s Late Night, a comedy about being the sole woman of color in a writers’ room. The High Note follows in those footsteps: It’s harmless and well-intentioned, and relies on the talent of its leads to carry the plot. PG-13. MIA VICINO. On Demand.
* Somewhere around the time eight kinda-sorta scientists run out of oxygen in their own biosphere, you’re likely to get frustrated that this Neon-Hulu documentary doesn’t allow its utterly unique story to be more interesting. The petri dish certainly swims with fascinating variables, as a caravan of Bay Area thespians turns into mechanical geniuses, sailing entrepreneurs and ’90s news staples as they seal themselves in an Arizona biome for two years. They were after something grand but confused: scientific breakthrough without proper data, radical environmentalism funded by an oil fortune, and a sense of community without any real-world outreach. The troupe’s 16 mm footage spanning the ’60s through the ’90s is certainly a marvel in its own right, but the great sin of Matt Wolf’s documentary is that it puts no effort into clearing up a story obfuscated by ideals with no names and missions with no goals. It’s not as though the doc needs to find the biospherists guilty of cultish behavior to be worthwhile, but the amount of pseudo-scientific or vaguely inspirational hooey the film lets slide without clarification or exploration flatly defeats the purpose. “There’s all this stuff, and what’s gonna happen?” Biosphere 2 botanist Linda Leigh defines the group’s “alternative” approach to science. That pretty much sums up Spaceship Earth‘s approach, too. NR. CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, YouTube.