Review: ‘Irresistible’ (2020), starring Steve Carell, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis and Rose Byrne

June 26, 2020

by Carla Hay

Chris Cooper, Brent Sexton and Steve Carell in “Irresistible” (Photo by Daniel McFadden/ Focus Features)

“Irresistible” 

Directed by Jon Stewart

Culture Representation: Taking place mostly in the fictional working-class town of Deerlaken, Wisconsin, the political comedy “Irresistible” features a predominantly white cast (with a few African Americans and Latinos) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A high-profile and experienced Democrat National Committee strategist arrives in Deerlaken because he thinks he can groom a future Democratic presidential candidate by getting him elected a Democrat mayor of Deerlaken, but this mayoral campaign faces stiff competition from the campaign of the Republican incumbent.

Culture Audience: “Irresistible” will appeal mostly to fans of Steve Carell and political comedies, but the movie is nothing more than a series of lazy stereotypes.

Rose Byrne and Steve Carell in “Irresistible” (Photo by Daniel McFadden/Focus Features)

Contrary to what it looks like in the trailer for the political comedy “Irresistible,” this smug and annoying movie is not centered on a possible romance between Democrat National Committee strategist Gary Zimmer (played by Steve Carell) and Republican National Committee strategist Faith Brewster (played by Rose Byrne), as they’re pitted against each other in a mayoral campaign battle in the fictional working-class town of Deerlaken, Wisconsin. Byrne’s Faith Brewster character isn’t in the movie every much, even though photos and images of Byrne in the movie’s marketing materials make it appear is if she’s a co-lead actor in the movie. She’s not. She has a small supporting role.

Instead, “Irresistible” (written and directed by Jon Stewart) is very much enamored with making the condescending, posturing “liberal” Gary Zimmer the center of the story. It’s at least commendable that “Irresistible” did not try to completely copy the “love/hate/we know they’re going to get together” relationship of political opposites that was on display in director Ron Underwood’s critically panned 1994 comedy flop “Speechless.” Geena Davis and Michael Keaton starred in “Speechless” as political speechwriters working on rival campaigns—a story inspired by the real-life romance of James Carville and Mary Matalin, except that in “Speechless,” the woman was the Democrat and the man was the Republican.

In “Irresistible,” Gary is the worst kind of liberal: He thinks he’s open-minded and progressive, but he has the same old-fashioned stereotypical beliefs about women and people of color as the conservatives he says he despises. It’s unclear if writer/director Stewart (who is an outspoken liberal in real life) intentionally set out to do a satire of this type of self-congratulatory liberal, but the end result is a comedy film that takes itself way too seriously.

And, quite frankly, the screenwriting for “Irresistible” isn’t very good at all. Just because Stewart wrote a lot of jokes and won several Emmys when he hosted “The Daily Show” from 1999 to 2015, that doesn’t mean he’s a talented screenwriter for movies. “Irresistible” (not to be confused with the 2006 “Irresistible” love-triangle drama, starring Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill and Emily Blunt) is also an odd name for a political satire/comedy, since many people find politics to be the opposite of irresistible and actually quite repellent—much like how the competing political strategists in this movie are repulsive characters.

“Irresistible” starts off with a montage of photos of U.S. presidential campaigns from various Republican and Democrat nominees, from 1968 to 2016. The movie then shows Gary and Faith experiencing Election Day for the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Faith is reveling in the victory of Donald Trump, while Gary is crushed by Hillary Clinton’s loss.

The rest of the story then pivots to Gary’s point of view, as Faith only pops up here and there for the rest of the movie. Gary comes across a viral video of a former Marine-turned-farmer in Deerlaken (pronounced “Deer-locken”), giving a passionate pro-immigration speech at a town council meeting about undocumented workers. That farmer is Jack Hastings (played by Chris Cooper, in one of his long list of “folksy, salt-of-the-earth” roles), a widower who tells an anti-immigration city official in front of the assembled crowd: “I’m not saying you’re a bad person. I think you’re scared.”

Gary tells his assembled team at his headquarters in Washington, D.C., that this farmer could be a promising candidate to win a future U.S. presidential election because Jack is a hero ex-Marine who looks conservative but talks progressive. As far as Gary can tell, Jack is not affiliated with any political party and has no political aspirations, but Gary thinks he’s come up with a brilliant idea to groom Jack into a Democrat: Gary wants to go to Deerlaken to help Jack run for mayor.

“He’s a Democrat but just doesn’t know it,” Gary says arrogantly about Jack. Gary also crudely describes Jack to his team as “a man who makes Joe the Plumber look like [1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael] Dukakis in mom jeans and a fucking Easter bonnet.” This “joke” only works with people who know about U.S. presidential campaigns from the late 1980s and early 1990s.

When Gary tells his team that he wants to get Jack elected, it’s a problematic scene that reduces the few people of color in the scene (three Latino men and one black woman) as tokens who only speak up when Gary talks about needing representation from their racial groups. He condescendingly tells them that Hillary Clinton lost the election because not enough black people and Latinos showed up to vote for her. (Gary conveniently forgets to mention all the white citizens who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but didn’t vote for Clinton in 2016, even though Obama campaigned for her.)

Debra Messing has a brief, uncredited cameo in the scene as another “liberal” DNC staffer who thinks she knows best, by saying the best strategy for Democrats to win the next presidential election is to get more black and Latino citizens to vote. The Latino men in the meeting agree, and join hands with the Debra Messing character, while shutting out the black woman sitting in between them. The men utter something in Spanish in solidarity.

The only black DNC staffer (played by Denise Moyé) in the meeting speaks up, by saying that she agrees with Gary’s idea of expanding the Democrats’ base and not taking votes for granted. The Debra Messing character (who also doesn’t have a name in the movie) sheepishly agrees.

It’s a cringeworthy, pandering and poorly written/depicted scene. The one thing that’s fairly accurate is how Gary, like a lot of people in power, think they can speak for all racial groups on their team, without actually checking to see how the team members from different racial groups actually feel about those topics.

At any rate, by the time Gary and his nearly all-white team head to the nearly all-white Deerlaken, his massive ego thinks that he can roll into town and tell these people what to do because he’s a big-city intellectual liberal who’s a big-shot strategist from the DNC. Of course, the movie’s biggest credibility plot hole is that in real life, a political strategist with this amount of clout would not waste all this time to get a small-town mayor elected. Why? There’s not enough money in it for the strategist.

Gary convinces Jack to run for mayor as a Democrat by saying things like: “I know you don’t think of yourself as a Democrat, but after hearing your speech, I can assure you, you are. And I would like to offer you my company services to do so … Democrats are getting our asses kicked because guys like me don’t know how to talk to guys like you.”

Faith finds out that Gary is in this small town for this campaign, so she shows up in Deerlaken to be the strategist for the Republican incumbent Mayor Braun (played by Brent Sexton), because apparently she has nothing better to do with her time either. Faith and Mayor Braun don’t get nearly as much screen time in the movie as Gary and Jack do, but these sparsely written Republican characters are also written as stereotypes. Faith could easily pass for a Fox News anchor, while Mayor Braun uses Republican tropes in his campaign, such as the love of God, guns and country folks.

Multiple times in the movie, “Irresistible” makes a heavy-handed point about campaign finances and how money can corrupt politicians. Gary is obviously in politics for the money and power. Therefore, it doesn’t ring true that someone like him would get so caught up in a small-time mayoral campaign. It seems like this common sense was thrown out the window when Stewart was writing the screenplay, whose only purpose seems to be portraying people in the political process as broad clichés.

When Gary arrives in Deerlaken, all the predictable stereotypes are on display.  (Although Deerlaken is supposed to be in Wisconsin, the movie’s Deerlaken scenes were actually filmed in Rockmart, Georgia.) The only thing that Stewart didn’t do to add to the condescending stereotypes of Midwestern rural people is have anyone chew on hayseed.

The volunteers for Jack’s campaign aren’t very smart, which is the movie’s way of saying that people in this area are very uneducated. When the volunteers start calling people on their phone lists, they find out they’re accidentally calling each other at campaign headquarters instead of voters, because the volunteers mistook the office phone list for the voters phone list. And it takes Gary to point out this mistake to them. That’s how “dumb” these locals are.

Gary is staying a motel where the motel bar is also the “front desk.” It’s a bar where men wear flannel shirts and have names like Big Mike (played by Will Sasso) and Little Mike (played by Will McLaughlin) and don’t seem to have an education past high school. The motel and the town are so “behind the times” that they don’t even have Wi-Fi or broadband service throughout most of the town. They mostly access the Internet through dial-up service. The annoying screech of a dial-up modem connection is a running “joke” in the film.

And there’s a badly written scene of Gary and some of the men on his team parked in a car outside the town’s high school, one of the few places with Wi-Fi access. Gary and his team are asked to leave, but they refuse, so they get kicked out of the parking lot because the school’s security people think it’s a car full of possible sexual predators.

Even when Gary gives a lustful stare when he first sees Jack’s 28-year-old daughter Diana (played by Mackenzie Davis) at Jack’s farm, that lust turns to some disgust when he sees that she’s got her hand up the rear end of a cow. For most of the movie, Gary and his team underestimate Diana’s intelligence because they think she’s as an ignorant farmer’s daughter who doesn’t know much about politics. It still doesn’t stop Gary from flirting with Diana, but he’s mostly focused on winning the campaign for Jack.

Some of the people on Gary’s team include nerdy pollster Kurt (played by Topher Grace) and abrasive digital analytics strategist Tina (played by Natasha Lyonne), who clash with each over about how they think their respective voter analysis is better. Tina huffs when she dismisses Kurt’s polling numbers by saying that people’s computer usage is a more accurate picture of who voters are: “A digital footprint is your true self.”

When Kurt and Tina get into a little verbal tiff during a campaign meeting, Diana speaks up and says to Tina, “Surely, people are more complete than their online transactions.” Tina snaps back, “Says the woman with three cats and intense [Internet] search history of the herpes virus.” This is what’s supposed to pass as humor in this movie.

In fact, there’s very little humor to be found in “Irresistible,” which is a waste of this talented cast. Faith and Gary have some obvious sexual tension with each other, but it’s written in such an off-putting way that it’s just not as funny as Stewart probably thought it was when he wrote the script.

For example, there’s one scene where Faith calls Gary “fat,” and then she gives him a long lick on his face like it’s an ice cream cone. In another scene, Gary and Faith have an argument and then say that whichever of them loses the election will have to perform oral sex on the other for an hour. This oral sex “dare” is described in much cruder terms in the movie.

By the end of “Irresistible,” there’s kind of a dumb plot twist that reiterates some of the preachy messages of the film. But this plot twist doesn’t matter too much, because the entire plot of a strategist like Gary being in a small town like Deerlaken was an ill-conceived idea in the first place. And “Irresistible” also has an unnecessary gimmick of showing three different epilogues (the last epilogue in the film is supposed to be the “real” one), even going as far as having the end credits start to roll during each epilogue, just to trick/confuse viewers over which epilogue is “real.”

With so many U.S. citizens in real life who are already cynical or apathetic about politics, “Irresistible” isn’t going to make people feel good about participating in the political process. And although “Irresistible” is obviously influenced by “The Candidate” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” it definitely won’t be considered a classic like those films.

Focus Features released “Irresistible” in select U.S. cinemas, digital and VOD.

Review: ‘Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics’ starring Sting, Ben Stiller, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Bourdain, Deepak Chopra, A$AP Rocky and Sarah Silverman

May 18, 2020

by Carla Hay

Rob Corddry in “Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

“Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics”

Directed by Donick Cary

Culture Representation: This documentary interviews a predominantly white male group of entertainers who talk about their experiences taking psychedelic drugs, and the movie features a diverse group of actors doing comedy skits about psychedelic drug experiences.

Culture Clash: Despite these drugs being illegal, almost all of the people interviewed say that they don’t regret taking psychedelic drugs.

Culture Audience: “Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics” will appeal to people who just want one-sided comedic stories about taking psychedelic drugs, because the movie’s agenda is to exclude any stories about the drugs’ long-term negative effects on health.

Nick Offerman in “Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

In its overexuberance to portray psychedelic drug taking as something that’s harmless or something to laugh about later, the documentary “Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics” sinks to new lows of exploitation by prominently featuring two celebrities whose tragic, self-destructive deaths are definitely not funny. The documentary’s filmmakers (including director Donick Cary) made the morbid and tacky decision to display the filmmakers’ interviews with Carrie Fisher and Anthony Bourdain in this parade of celebrities who mostly glamorize taking psychedelic drugs.

Fisher died in 2016 of drug-related causes. Bourdain committed suicide in 2018. They both struggled with mental-health issues and drug addiction and admitted to taking a lot of LSD and other psychedelics in their lifetimes. Needless to say, Fisher and Bourdain are definitely not examples of how psychedelic drugs can help people with mental-health problems and drug addictions. And yet, the documentary pushes the scientifically unproven agenda that psychedelic drugs are beneficial to people suffering from drug addiction and mental-health issues.

But hey, why let these tragic deaths get in the way of making a documentary where these now-dead people are shown joking about their acid trips, as if those drug experiences couldn’t possibly be harmful to them? They’re certainly not going to talk about the negative side effects of “bad trips,” such as suicidal thoughts, depression or psychosis. After all, this movie wants people to believe that psychedelics are “shiny, happy drugs,” without giving a thoroughly honest look at the down sides too, because the film is so focused on having people endorse these drugs.

And there’s a reason why the filmmakers only included entertainers in this documentary that glamorizes psychedelic drugs. Imagine a documentary that featured a bunch of health-care workers, emergency responders, schoolteachers or airplane pilots joking about their experiences doing psychedelic drugs, and many of the interviewees giving the impression that they still do psychedelics on a regular basis. It wouldn’t seem so “harmless” then, would it?

Therefore, it’s no surprise that the documentary focuses on people (some more famous than others) who are in showbiz, where illegal drug abuse is flaunted and often celebrated. The average person in a regular job would not be able to get away with bragging in a Netflix documentary about their drug experiences.

Nor does the average person have the kind of money that rock star Sting has, to fly to Mexico whenever he wants, just to take peyote in an elaborate shaman ritual, which he describes in vivid detail in the documentary. Almost all of the people in this film can easily afford to indulge in taking illegal drugs and do not have to worry about how they’re going to pay for any medical treatment or legal issues if things go wrong. It’s one of the reasons why the documentary glamorizes these drug experiences, because there are some negative consequences to illegal drug taking that the “average” person can’t casually dismiss as easily as a well-paid entertainer can.

In addition to Sting, there are several other entertainers in the documentary who talk about their psychedelic drug trips or say that they’ve used psychedelic drugs: Ben Stiller (who’s one of the documentary’s producers), Nick Kroll, Deepak Chopra, Will Forte, A$AP Rocky, Nick Offerman, Shepard Fairey, Lewis Black, Paul Scheer, Rob Corddry, Andy Richter, Judd Nelson, Sarah Silverman, Jim James, Diedrich Bader, Rob Huebel, Judd Nelson, Reggie Watts, Natasha Lyonne, Adam Horovitz, Mark Maron, Rosie Perez, Donovan, Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, Brett Gelman, Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon and David Cross.

One of the problems of doing a documentary like this is that you never really know how much people could be exaggerating or lying about these drug experiences. Many of the people interviewed are comedians and actors—two professions that are notorious for people fabricating things about their lives in order to get attention. Therefore, this documentary should not be considered very “realistic” by any stretch of the drug-addled imagination.

The psychedelic stories are re-enacted in one of two ways: through animation or by having live actors do a scripted skit. The animated segments (from Sugarshack Animation) are among the best aspects of the documentary. The scripted skits are hit-and-miss.

One of those misfires is miscasting Adam Devine as Bourdain in a re-enactment of Bourdain’s description of a drug-fueled, Hunter S. Thompson-inspired road trip that he took when he was a young man in the 1970s. Devine is known for having a sweet and goofy persona, while Bourdain was the complete opposite, which makes the re-enactment wrong from the get-go.

Even worse, the story that Bourdain tells isn’t even that funny. The road trip included Bourdain and a male friend picking up two women and partying heavily with them in a hotel room, including ingesting several drugs, such as LSD, alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. One of the women overdosed, and the others thought she was dead. So they just left her unconscious on the floor while they tried to figure out what to do, according to Bourdain.

Bourdain, while high on LSD, says that he imagined that there would be police coming to arrest them, with helicopters, searchlights, and a S.W.A.T.-like team surrounding the room. And then the woman suddenly regained consciousness and started to dance as if nothing had happened. Someone could’ve died from ingesting drugs while you were partying with that person, you had a LSD-induced panic attack about being arrested, and that’s supposed to be funny?

A better re-enactment that accomplishes its intended humor is Natasha Leggero dressed in a “Star Wars” Princess Leia outfit, for Fisher’s tale of being high on LSD while in New York City’s Central Park. During that psychedelic experience, Fisher says she spent a great deal of time being upset at seeing an acorn “misbehave” on the grass. During another acid trip on a beach, Fisher vaguely remembers she might have been topless when a bus full of Japanese tourists stopped right in front of her and they recognized her.

And in a somewhat clever casting switcheroo, Corddry plays Scheer in the segment that re-enacts Scheer’s psychedelic story, while Scheer plays Corddy in Corddry’s re-enactment. Meanwhile, Kroll portrays himself in his re-enactment about how he and a group of male friends were high on LSD at a Malibu beach, and the friends covered him in kelp as a prank. He then imagined himself to be a kelp monster and chased them around the beach. (Things weren’t so funny the next morning when he woke up covered in bites from whatever small animals were in the kelp.)

Most of the psychedelic trips described in the documentary are about hallucinations, experiencing colors in a different way, or losing a sense of time or memory. And there are the typical stories of “revelations,” along the lines of “I saw inside my soul,” “I saw how connected the world is” and “I found out the meaning of life is to love everybody.” Some of the people interviewed also give advice by saying it’s better to take psychedelics with trusted friends and to avoid looking in mirrors while under the influence of psychedelics.

A$AP Rocky (one of the few people of color who’s interviewed in the film) tells one of the documentary’s funniest stories, about how he took LSD with a beautiful female companion. During the course of the time they had together, they started having sex. And he swears that he saw a rainbow shoot from his penis during this encounter. “I don’t even like rainbows,” he quips. (Needless to say, the re-enactment for this story is definitely in animation form.)

But for every entertaining story like that one, the documentary has a story that’s basic or boring. The Grateful Dead was considered the ultimate psychedelic rock band, so you’d think one of the Dead’s drummers would have some hilarious stories to tell. Wrong.

Kreutzmann’s anecdotes aren’t that interesting or revealing, unless you consider it’s fascinating that he tells a story of coming home to his parents’ house after staying out all night while he was on LSD, and hallucinating that his breakfast meal of eggs were moving on the plate. He also mentions that he once couldn’t finish performing at a Grateful Dead concert because he was hallucinating that his drums were melting. Yawn.

Being stoned on psychedelics at a Grateful Dead show is also predictably mentioned by some of the interviewees, such as Corddry and Maron. (The late Fred Willard has a cameo as a Deadhead hippie in the re-enactment of Maron’s psychedelic story.) Garant comedically describes how you can tell the difference between someone having a “good trip” and a “bad trip” at a Dead concert, because someone having a “good trip” will lean forward while walking, while someone having a “bad trip” will lean backward while walking, as if they’re afraid of where their head will go.

Sting, who says he’s had good and bad psychedelic trips, mentions that facing his own mortality was one of the most frightening things he ever experienced while under the influence of psychedelics. He also describes the first time he took peyote. It was at a farm in England, where he was unexpectedly asked to help a cow give birth while he was tripping out on the drug. He was told that the cow would die if he didn’t help, and when the calf was born, Sting says he finally understood the miracle of life.

“I think it’s a valuable experience,” says Sting of taking psychedelic drugs. “Whenever I’ve had a bad trip—and I’ve had many—I’ve realized it was what I needed. Sometimes, you need to have your ego taken down a notch or two. On the other hand, you can have immensely rewarding experiences. My feeling is that it balances out.”

Stiller is one of the few celebrities in the documentary who talks about disliking what he says was his one and only experience with LSD (when he was a young man in the ’80s), because it was a bad trip. He says that he was hoping that it would be an enlightening experience, but instead he spent the approximately six-hour acid trip feeling “fear and anxiety.”

“Immediately, I started to freak out and get really scared,” Stiller remembers. “I started staring at my hand, doing the cliché thing of of pondering what my hand was.” His paranoia during the acid trip was made worse, he says, when he and the friend he was with at the time began walking around New York City and saw the parade floats that were going to be in the upcoming Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Stiller says that he hallucinated that the floats were chasing him, like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the “Ghostbusters” movie.

Perez and Silverman each say that the first time they took LSD, it was by accident. Silverman said that it happened when she and some comedian friends were hanging out at a diner in New York City, when a hippie stranger walked in and handed her a tab of LSD that she took without even asking what it was. Her story isn’t as coherent as some of the others, since she recalls laughing and crying with a group of people in public and then ending up in someone’s car with the driver (who was also on LSD) forgetting how to drive.

Perez said she got “dosed” when she was out with her sister on New Year’s Eve in their hometown of New York City, sometime in the late ’80s. They went to a nightclub, where she was offered some fruit punch as a drink. Little did she know that the punch was spiked with LSD. Perez says that she  hallucinated that the dance floor had turned into waves, and she ended up rolling around with her breasts exposed.

Her trip intensified when she got home and imagined that her body had merged into her bed. Perez says she didn’t do drugs or drink alcohol at this time in her life, so when she was told that she was having an acid trip, her first thought was that she was going to hell. She says that the experience led her to seek therapy, which helped her get over her “Catholic guilt,” so she thinks getting rid of her religious hang-ups was one good thing that came out of the experience.

Speaking of guilt trips, the movie pokes fun at the ridiculous, over-the-top and usually badly acted public-service announcements (PSAs) aimed at preventing people, especially young people, from taking psychedelics. Offerman pops up occasionally throughout the film in a parody of a science professor who talks about the effects of psychedelics. NBCUniversal’s “The More You Know” PSA campaign is mocked with “The More You Trip,” whenever one of the interviewees gives advice on what to do or what not to do when taking psychedelics. (For example: “Don’t drive while on acid.”)

The “ABC Afterschool Special” is given the satire treatment with the documentary’s “LSD Afterschool Special,” a multi-part segment that has actor/comedian Adam Scott as the host of a 1980s-styled PSA film with a plot of nerdy high schoolers (played by Haley Joel Osment and Maya Erskine) going to a house party and being tempted into the “evils” of taking LSD. It’s a funny idea but it’s executed poorly.

On a more serious note, “Have a Good Trip” also attempts to promote the theory that using psychedelics is the best way to treat depression and other mental-health issues. Dr. Charles Grob, a psychiatry professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, is interviewed about his research in this area. Not surprisingly, he’s a proponent of using psychedelics to treat these issues (how else would he be able to continue to get research money), but the documentary fails to present other scientific points of view.

The only other non-entertainer interviewed in the film is Zach Leary, son of famed LSD guru Timothy Leary. And what he has to say is very predictable and reveals nothing new at all: “DMT is like the express ticket to primordial ooze. If you want to see what it is to be an organic being and absolutely watch your ego dissipate into nothingness, smoke some DMT, and you’ll get there right away.”

Although some people in the documentary, including Dr. Grob, caution that taking psychedelics isn’t for everyone and can have damaging effects for some people, any of those “bad effects” stories are shut out of the film. It’s like doing a documentary about bungee jumping and refusing to talk about the people who got seriously injured or killed from this risky stunt.

Celebrity spiritual guru Chopra, who says he experimented with psychedelics in the past, is one of the few people in the film who admits “you run the risk of psychosis” from doing psychedelics. Of course, the film only presents stories from people who say that they have “happy endings” from taking psychedelics. And two of those people are now dead because of self-destructive reasons, so viewers can judge for themselves how “beneficial” psychedelics really are in helping people with serious health issues such as depression and addiction.

One of the more irresponsible things about the documentary is that it leaves out any talk of acid flashbacks. Naïve people who see this film as a guide to taking psychedelic drugs might think that once an acid trip is “over,” the drug has left the body, the way that alcohol can leave the human body through urine after a 24-to-48-hour period if no more alcohol is consumed. But the scientific reality is that, depending on the dosage, psychedelic drugs can stay in the body for a variable period of time, and that can lead to unpredictable and random “flashback” trips.

How people feel about “Have a Good Trip” will depend largely on how much they worship celebrities and take their words as gospel. The psychedelic anecdotes in the film should be taken for what they are—stories from people who are in the business of creating fake personas and making things look more glamorous than they really are.

The people who were chosen to be interviewed for this documentary also have the privilege of being less likely to be arrested for illegal drugs. (With few exceptions, most of the people in this film have a certain level of fame.) And they are less likely to have their careers ruined by a lot of psychedelic drug use, compared to people who don’t live in such a privileged bubble. It’s something to think about whenever you hear a celebrity in a certain income bracket openly brag about using illegal drugs.

Netflix premiered “Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics” on May 11, 2020.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival: Tribeca X: A Day of Conversations debuts to celebrate intersection of entertainment and advertising

April 3, 2019

Tribeca Film Festival - white logo

 

Natasha Lyonne (Photo by Marion Curtis / StarPix for Netflix)

The following is a press release from the Tribeca Film Festival:

The Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, announced today that it will debut Tribeca X: A Day of Conversations, a look at storytelling at the intersection of advertising and entertainment, during the 2019 Festival on Friday, April 26. The event will bring together industry leaders and creators from brands, agencies, and filmmaking to examine the achievements that are adventurous and distinctive in their work. Participants include keynote speaker P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard; AT&T Communications Chief Brand Officer, Fiona Carter; Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard; TBWA Worldwide Chief Diversity Officer Doug Melville; President & CEO of The Ad Council Lisa Sherman; actress/creator Natasha Lyonne, and more. Tribeca X, sponsored by PwC, takes place during the 18th Tribeca Film Festival, which runs April 24-May 5.

The Tribeca X: A Day of Conversations program is an extension of the 4th annual Tribeca X Awards which celebrates the best artist and brand collaborations of the past year. For the first time this year, Tribeca X expands from one award to four: best feature film, short film, episodic, and VR. Also announced today are the finalists for the 2019 Tribeca X Awards representing brands such as The Carlsberg Foundation, Patagonia, PepsiCo Content Studio, AT&T, YETI, Girls Who Code, HP, The North Face, Impossible Foods/White Castle, Stand Up To Cancer/HP, and Diageo. This year, the selected finalists’ work will be screened during the Festival, with VR available to experience during the Tribeca X day event at The Tribeca Festival Hub at Spring Studios.

The winning projects will be chosen by a jury that includes Kinjil Mathur, Chief Marketing Officer of Squarespace; John Osborn, Chief Executive Officer of OMD USA; Nabil Elderkin, Film Director; Patrick Milling-Smith, Co-Founder/CEO of SMUGGLER; Kim Gehrig, Director; Jason Kreher, Creative Director, Entertainment and Editorial at Wieden+Kennedy.

“As brands continue to push the boundaries of creativity and tell deeper stories, we are excited to debut this event and bring leaders in entertainment and advertising together at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival,” said Paula Weinstein, EVP of Tribeca Enterprises.

“As festival programmers, we are keenly aware of the potential for an incredible film to move an audience, inspire action, and effect change,” said Festival Director Cara Cusumano. “It has been rewarding to see brands embracing this transformative power of cinematic storytelling in how they communicate with consumers, empowering innovative filmmakers along the way.”

TRIBECA X: A DAY OF CONVERSATIONS:
New this year, Tribeca will host a half-day conference with speakers and conversations about the state of branded entertainment and cinematic collaborations between filmmakers and brands.
Event Time:
Friday 4/26, from 9AM-2:30PM, Tribeca X: A Day of Conversations, at the Festival Hub at Spring Studios

Keynote Speaker: Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer, P&G
Marc Pritchard is responsible for P&G’s brand building worldwide. He sets the Company’s multi-billion-dollar media advertising strategies, and leads marketing innovations that guide brand building for P&G’s portfolio of 65 trusted, quality brands. As top brand builder and P&G veteran for more than three decades, Marc believes in the power of brands to serve people with the best-performing products, while also being a force for good through ethics and responsibility, community impact, diversity and inclusion, gender equality and environmental sustainability. He continually leads P&G’s brand building reinvention and is a leading voice in the media, marketing and creative industry.

Founder Spotlight: Yvon Chouinard, Founder, Patagonia
Patagonia is recognized as one of the most mission-driven brands in the country. What most people don’t know is that the reach of this California-based retailer extends far beyond brick and mortar stores, blurring the lines between commerce and activism. Patagonia is an award-winning film company, an emerging leader in the organic food industry, and a fearless supporter of environmentalist causes, currently suing the Trump administration in an effort to protect Bears Ears National Monument. Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard will share the story behind the brands most recent feature-length film Artifishal: The Road to Extinction is Paved with Good Intentions and the company’s mission to save our home planet.

Creator Spotlight: Natasha Lyonne
Celebrated Emmy-nominated actress Natasha Lyonne stepped behind the camera in 2019 for her critically-acclaimed Netflix show Russian Doll. Her directorial debut, in fact, came in 2017 with the short film Cabiria, Charity, Chastity for fashion brand KENZO’s 2017 campaign. In this one-on-one conversation, Lyonne will share the story behind her stunning KENZO collaboration and her point of view on the trends of brand supported filmmaking. She’ll discuss how her creative approach to a brand partnership differs from her traditional film and TV work, as well as the unique opportunities that can be created when artists, independent filmmakers and influential brands join forces.
Moderator: Brian Braiker, Editor, Ad Age

What’s Next for Women in Branded Entertainment?
Movements like Time’s Up and 50/50 by 2020 are sweeping across the film industry, demanding change and parity for women storytellers. How have these ripples been felt in the world of branded filmmaking? How do brand collaborations offer unique opportunities for women’s stories and voices, and how do those stories elevate a brand and resonate with consumers and audiences? How does the incredible work being done by female creatives and brand leaders make both the content and the brand better? And now that change has come, what happens next?
Moderator: Emma Reeves, Executive Director, Free The Bid
Panelists:

  • Fiona Carter, Chief Brand Officer, AT&T Communications
  • Justine Armour, Executive Creative Director, 72andSunny
  • Shruti Ganguly, Filmmaker & Founder, honto88
  • Samantha Woolf, Head of Marketing, NY, United Talent Agency

Activism and Impact
Films have a long history of effecting change. In advertising, having a purpose is more important than ever. How can activism-oriented brands and organizations achieve their impact-oriented goals by working with real filmmakers and creators to tell stories that support their mission? How can companies support the socially impactful work already being created in this space? What types of content can be created to help further the message and raise awareness for important causes?
Moderator: Lesley Chilcott, Producer & Director, Invented by Girls (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman)
Panelists:

  • Lisa Sherman, President & CEO, The Ad Council
  • Greg Hahn, Chief Creative Officer, BBDO New York
  • Folayo Lasaki, Head of Marketing, SoulPancake, a division of Participant Media
  • Peter Van Overstraeten, VP, Premium & Super Premium Brands, Anheuser-Busch

The Immersive Method
Immersive technology has changed the way we create and consume content. Whether you’re a creator or a brand, there has never been a better opportunity to engage audiences with experiences that tell a story. VR and AR driven concepts allow artists to take their creative visions to new and exciting heights. Brands are using experiential marketing to create interactive, story-driven experiences that resonate with consumers. How will immersive storytelling continue to evolve and influence the trends of branded content and the landscape of advertising?
Moderator: Gregory Boyer, Partner, Entertainment & Media Sector Advisory Leader, PwC
Panelists:

  • Tom Vance, Independent Producer, Immersive Content
  • Stephanie Riggs, Creative Director, Experiential, Refinery29
  • Brandon Zamel, CEO, Springbok Entertainment
  • Mia Tramz, Editorial Director, Enterprise & Immersive Experiences, TIME Magazine

Case Study: Uncle Drew
A process-oriented conversation that brings together the key collaborators behind the Pepsi franchise Uncle Drew, one of the most successful examples of branded entertainment crossing over into mainstream culture. They’ll discuss how it broke the mold of conventional marketing, the impact it has achieved and how it evolved creatively – from a short-form advertising campaign to a successful theatrically released feature film.
Moderator: Doug Melville, Chief Diversity Officer, TBWA Worldwide
Panelists:

  • Lou Arbetter, GM, PepsiCo Content Studio, PepsiCo
  • Paula Kupfer, SVP, Global Partnerships, Consumer Products, and Product Placement
  • Colin Smeeton, President, PRP
  • Jay Longino, Writer, Producer

This year’s Tribeca X finalists and jury include:
FEATURE FINALISTS:

Almost Human
Notes on the human condition by 10 scientist and a robot. Stephen Fry narrates Jeppe Rønde’s visionary science essay, where the artistic ambitions have intergalactic dimensions.
Director: Jeppe Rønde
Brand: The Carlsberg Foundation
Event Time: Thursday, April 25 at 7:00PM at Regal Cinemas Battery Park

Artifishal: The Road to Extinction is Paved with Good Intentions
A film about the fight for wild fish and rivers. It explores wild salmon’s slide towards extinction and the financial, social and ecological costs of human arrogance.
Director: Josh “Bones” Murphy
Brand: Patagonia
Event Time: Thursday, April 25 at 6:15PM at Regal Cinemas Battery Park

Uncle Drew
After draining his life savings to enter a team in the Rucker Classic streetball tournament in Harlem, Dax is dealt a series of unfortunate setbacks. Desperate to win the tournament and the cash prize, Dax stumbles upon the man, the myth, the legend Uncle Drew, and convinces him to return to the court one more time.
Director: Charles Stone III
Brand: Pepsi
Agency: The PepsiCo Content Studio
Event Time: Thursday, April 25 at 8:45PM at Regal Cinemas Battery Park

SHORT FINALISTS:
Event Time: Thursday, April 25 at 5:45PM at Regal Cinemas Battery Park

The Face of Distracted Driving – Forrest
Tells the story of Forrest Cepeda, a 16-year-old boy who was killed in a distracted driving accident.
Director: Errol Morris
Brand: AT&T
Agency: BBDO New York

Hometown
Billy Durney’s hard work towards his dream restaurant came to an unexpected halt when Sandy hit. But that didn’t stop him from helping his Brooklyn community. He lifted spirits with damn good barbecue.
Director: Greg Kohs
Brand: YETI

SISTERHOOD: “Action”
On the eve of their 16th birthday, a group of friends get stuck on a boat. As they wait for dawn, they project their hopes for the world over the next sixteen years.
Director: Amirah Tajdin
Brand: Girls Who Code
Agency: Yours Truly Creative

Universal Machine
A meditation on the ultimate fate of humanity’s relationship with technology. The film follows a gifted young woman who awakens into a post-apocalyptic world and must transcend a violent confrontation with a lifelike Artificial Intelligence.
Director: Daniel Askill
Brand: Calvin Klein
Agency: Visionaire

EPISODIC FINALISTS:
Event Time: Thursday, April 25 at 5:45PM at Regal Cinemas Battery Park

History of Memory
From Florida to India, Beijing to New Orleans, History of Memory is a documentary series about people whose lives were forever altered by the discovery, creation, or preservation of one photograph.
Director: Sarah Klein, Tom Mason
Brand: HP
Agency: Redglass Pictures, the Garage by HP

Walls Are Meant For Climbing
Since 1966, we’ve seen walls not as obstacles but as opportunities. They are a chance to explore what we believe to be possible. They are a vertical proving ground for grit, perseverance, and determination. This series celebrates the walls that unite us not divide us.
Director: Landon Bassett
Brand: The North Face

Wu-Tang In Space Eating Impossible Sliders
The online mini-series features Wu-Tang artists eating White Castle’s Impossible Sliders while orbiting Earth answering questions from fans. The setting represents Impossible Foods’ vision for having such an impact on the planet you can see it from outer space.
Director: Sam Spiegel
Brand: Impossible Foods, White Castle
Agency: Impossible Foods In-House, Merkley + Partners

VR FINALISTS:
Event Times:
Thursday, April 22 – Wednesday, April 24, from 10AM-6PM, registration at the Festival Hub at Spring Studios
Friday, April 26, from 9AM-2:30PM, Tribeca X: A Day of Conversation at the Festival Hub at Spring Studios

The 100%
An immersive experience following the harrowing and inspirational journey of Maggie Kurdirka, a ballet dancer and rising star at the Joffrey Concert Group, who at 23 years old was diagnosed with incurable stage four metastatic breast cancer.
Director: Hernan Barangan
Brand: Stand Up To Cancer, HP
Agency: Springbok Entertainment

Decisions: Party’s Over
Diageo’s “Decisions: Party’s Over” demonstrates the company’s commitment to social responsibility through innovative VR technology that engages consumers in a first-person, 360° immersive story about the dangers of binge drinking.
Director: Patrick Meegan
Brand: Diageo
Agency: Jaunt, Taylo

2019 TRIBECA X JURY:

Nabil Elderkin, Film Director
Kim Gehrig, Director
Jason Kreher, Creative Director, Entertainment and Editorial, Wieden+Kennedy
Kinjil Mathur, Chief Marketing Officer, Squarespace
Patrick Milling-Smith, Co-Founder/CEO, SMUGGLER
John Osborn, Chief Executive Officer, OMD USA

Passes and Tickets for the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival
Tickets for events at The Beacon Theatre and single tickets are now on sale at tribecafilm.com/festival/tickets, or by telephone at (646) 502-5296 or toll-free at (866) 941-FEST (3378).

Also available for purchase now is The Hudson Pass, an all-access pass to screenings and talks taking place at BMCC, Regal Battery Park Stadium, Village East Cinema, and SVA theaters as well as full access to all events at the Festival Hub at Spring Studios, which includes VR and Immersive projects, Movies Plus screenings and access to Festival lounges.

Single tickets cost $24.00 for evening and weekend screenings, $12.00 for weekday matinee screenings, $30.00 for Tribeca TV and Movies Plus $40.00 for Tribeca Talks events and $40.00 for Tribeca Immersive.

● iTunes:https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tribeca-festival/id1208189515?mt=8
● Google Play:https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tff2017.android

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About the Tribeca Film Festival:
The Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, brings visionaries and diverse audiences together to celebrate storytelling in all its forms, including film, TV, VR, gaming, music, and online work. With strong roots in independent film, Tribeca is a platform for creative expression and immersive entertainment. The Festival champions emerging and established voices; discovers award-winning filmmakers and creators; curates innovative experiences; and introduces new technology and ideas through premieres, exhibitions, talks, and live performances.

The Festival was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Now in its 18th year, the Festival has evolved into a destination for creativity that reimagines the cinematic experience and explores how art can unite communities. The 18th annual edition will take place April 24 – May 5, 2019.www.tribecafilm.com/festival

Hashtag: #Tribeca2019
Twitter: @Tribeca
Instagram: @tribeca
Facebook: facebook.com/Tribeca

About 2019 Tribeca Film Festival Partners:
As Presenting Sponsor of the Tribeca Film Festival, AT&T is committed to supporting the Festival and the art of filmmaking through access and innovation, while expanding opportunities to diverse creators around the globe. AT&T helps millions connect to their passions – no matter where they are. This year, AT&T and Tribeca will once again collaborate to give the world access to stories from underrepresented filmmakers that deserve to be seen. “AT&T Presents Untold Stories” is an inclusive film program in collaboration with Tribeca – a multi-year, multi-tier alliance between AT&T and Tribeca along with the year-round nonprofit Tribeca Film Institute.

The Tribeca Film Festival is pleased to announce its 2019 Partners: 23andMe, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Bai Beverages, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), BVLGARI, CHANEL, Diageo, ESPN, HBO, IMDb, Kia, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card from Chase, Merck, Montefiore, National CineMedia (NCM), Nespresso, New York Magazine, NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Prime Video Direct, P&G, PwC, Salesforce, Spring Studios New York, Squarespace, Status Sparkling Wine, and Stella Artois.