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  • Summary: In 1964, Ken Kesey, the famed author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” set off on a legendary, LSD-fuelled cross-country road trip to the New York World’s Fair. He was joined by “The Merry Band of Pranksters,” a renegade group of counterculture truth-seekers, including Neal Cassady, theIn 1964, Ken Kesey, the famed author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” set off on a legendary, LSD-fuelled cross-country road trip to the New York World’s Fair. He was joined by “The Merry Band of Pranksters,” a renegade group of counterculture truth-seekers, including Neal Cassady, the American icon immortalized in Kerouac’s “On the Road,” and the driver and painter of the psychedelic Magic Bus. Kesey and the Pranksters intended to make a documentary about their trip, shooting footage on 16MM, but the film was never finished and the footage has remained virtually unseen. With MAGIC TRIP, Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood were given unprecedented access to this raw footage by the Kesey family. They worked with the Film Foundation, HISTORY and the UCLA Film Archives to restore over 100 hours of film and audiotape, and have shaped an invaluable document of this extraordinary piece of American history. (Magnolia Pictures) Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Aug 11, 2011
    83
    The film is a lively and absorbing document, filled with jaw-dropping materials, such as an actual audio recording of Kesey's first LSD trip in a Stanford University lab.
  2. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Aug 4, 2011
    75
    The period footage shows all the principals, including Neal Cassady, who was only 38 but looked 52. Ken Kesey emerges as the film's hero - he is presented as a great American adventurer, the psychological equivalent of Lewis and Clark. Maybe that's not as ridiculous as it sounds.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Aug 26, 2011
    75
    Neither as magic nor as trippy as the culture quake that it documents, but it's a valuable flashback and a pleasurable contact high.
  4. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Aug 2, 2011
    60
    The directors rarely go beyond the experiential to provide larger, lasting insight into the journey's generational and historical importance. As such, the comedown from this Trip is a real bitch.
  5. Reviewed by: Frank Scheck
    Aug 5, 2011
    60
    The filmmakers' fidelity to their source material is admirable, but more historical context could have made this Trip as illuminating as it is magical.
  6. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Aug 3, 2011
    58
    In spite of this honey-toned self-documentation and some trippy visuals from the Imaginary Forces studio, Magic Trip is about as fun as being the only sober person at a party.
  7. Reviewed by: Pete Hammond
    Aug 6, 2011
    40
    Sadly, the documentary just doesn't have enough coherent passages to make anything about this now seemingly ancient journey compelling for contemporary audiences.

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