The other night, Josh borrowed “Magic Trip” from the library. As is the case with many of the movies he recommends, I’d both never heard of it before, and had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that Ken Kesey was involved, and there was acid. While I’ve never done acid, as someone who can appreciate both trippiness and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, that was good enough for me, really. But what I got was so much more.
Basically, “Magic Trip” was an “Avengers” for English majors, except instead of super heroes, it’s the people you’ve read, or at least heard of, throughout your entire scholastic career. Cuckoo’s Nest is one that I loved then, and love now. So I was super excited to see Ken Kesey on camera, as McMurphy’s apple clearly fell close to Kesey’s tree. Dude had charisma.
Plot eludes me more often than not, so I’ll let Wiki do the heavy lifting:
“Magic Trip is a documentary film directed by Alison Elwood and Alex Gibney, about Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, and the Merry Pranksters.
The documentary uses the 16 mm color footage shot by Kesey and the Merry Pranksters during their 1964 cross-country bus trip in the ‘Furthur‘ bus.”
Oh yeah, that bus? AWESOME! I appreciate an obnoxiously decorated vehicle, and Further wins the blue ribbon. Not only is it trolling (love the footage of its getting pulled over because no one did things like that, then), but it’s also painted with true artistry. Anything that combines those two elements is gold in my book. Or rainbow, as it were.
In case colorful buses and Wiki descriptions aren’t enough, here are five other reasons to watch “Magic Trip:”
1) It’s an accessible and engaging documentary. Even if you don’t have prior interest in the subject matter, it’s IMO a good movie unto itself.
2) The cast is awesome. Yes I know it’s a documentary, but the point remains! McMurphy is one of my Rebels of All Time (FUTURE BLOG TO COME), so while I was not surprised that Kesey was such a great protagonist, I was impressed. Cassady was as captivating as any written character I’ve ever met. And I found Stark Naked to be rather mesmerizing, troubling, and holding her own amongst rock stars, all at once. This is to say nothing of about 10 billion awesome other people who show up throughout the film. Such as…
3) (Aforementioned) English Major Avengers! Kesey! Kerouac! Ginsberg! Oh, let’s just chill real quick with McMurtry and Timothy Leary! Well, sure! My eternally starstruck heart was more starstruckian than usual, seeing all of these people just like, all in a room at the same time.
4) 4th Amendment nostalgia. I don’t remember what the quote was exactly, but it was in the beginning of “Magic Trip.” Someone (Kesey?) was saying that even though they got pulled over because many cops had never seen anything like their bus, they didn’t get searched for drugs despite — well, EVERYthing, because this was earlier ’60s, before anyone would have thought to look for drugs. At least from what I gathered from the film, weird was still just kinda weird then. Not cause for alarm, never mind jail, so long as everyone was cool and respectful to each other.
5) “FUN AND WISTFUL.” ~ The Huffington Post, on the cover of the “Magic Trip” DVD. Obviously I can’t turn down anything involving the word “wistful,” first of all. Second of all, it really is. I didn’t know what to expect going in, and while I came for the wistful, I was quickly drawn in by the fun, and forgot about the wistful until I was crying all over the place.
To quote Travis Birkenstock, “Two very enthusiastic thumbs up!”
That bus is awesome – shame he parked it in a swamp. I inadvertently did PCP smoking out of a friend’s bong (a green one, affectionately called Mr. Yuck)
once in college – after losing all ability to see color, I was freaking out and leaned against a bus. In my black and white world, I felt the bus breathing on me…I turned and it was the only thing in color and was breathing and snarling at me. Maybe I should watch this movie you speak of…lol.
Awww, Mike — I just saw your comment! And yes, you should watch it! Seriously, it’s just a great movie, in and of itself. Sorry you got laced!
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