Magic Trip

"Good"

Magic Trip Review


At the height of his success as a novelist, Ken Kesey picked up a film camera and set out to make a road movie. But the 30 hours of footage and unsynchronised sound were never edited down until now. And this invaluable documentary, subtitled "Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place", compiles takes us along for the ride.

Inspired by Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Kesey and the Merry Pranksters decided to drive a colourfully painted schoolbus, christened Further, from California to the New York 1964 World's Fair to get a feel for what was happening in America. They made it there after two weeks of free-wheeling craziness with amusing small adventures every step of the way. But they also get so lost in dropping acid that everything starts getting rather chaotic, sending their relationships into soap-opera territory. Which makes the drive back home a bit surreal.

The film edits the astonishing 16mm footage to follow the road trip chronologically. And the scenes are often outrageously candid and unfiltered.

Meanwhile, the filmmakers add an audio track consisting of Stanley Tucci's smirking narration and tellingly humorous reminiscences from the Pranksters themselves. What emerges is a fascinating look at the 1960s in the wake of John F Kennedy's assassination, surrounded by civil rights marches and a divisive election campaign.

The film is also a history of LSD itself, as Kesey was introduced to the drug at university in a government study (the audiotape of his first trip is inventively animated). Indeed, it later emerged that the CIA developed LSD as a mind-control drug for interrogations. Oddly, the film uncritically presents acid as positive and mind-expanding, ignoring bad trips or lasting effects. As a result, Gibney and Ellwood have made a movie that's revealing and important, but will only engage with insiders.

More interesting is the belief these people share that this is how society ought to be: free, fair and nonjudgemental. When they got home, they realised that they had started a movement that wouldn't die. Of course, that's when the fearful backlash began, as well as a movement from Kesey himself to get people to realise that there comes a time when you must stop taking drugs. But after the rest of the film, we're not convinced that Gibney and Ellwood believe that.



Magic Trip

Facts and Figures

Run time: 107 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th August 2011

Box Office USA: $0.2M

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Production compaines: A&E IndieFilms, Phoenix Wiley

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 17

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: , Alison Ellwood

Producer: Will Clarke, , Alexandra Johnes

Starring: as words and recordings, as Himself, Neal Cassady as Himself, as Himself

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

With virtually the same blend of wit and idiocy as the 2001 original, this fashion-scene...

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) reteams with Tilda Swinton for this fresh, tricky...

Deadpool Movie Review

Deadpool Movie Review

Both the filmmakers and the characters on-screen are so pleased with themselves that this might...

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

Advertisement
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.