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Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place (2011)

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A freewheeling portrait of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters' fabled road trip across America.

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(screenplay), | 3 more credits »
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Narrator
...
Jane Burton (voice)
...
Zonker (voice)
...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Timothy Leary ...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Neal Cassady ...
Himself
...
Gretchen Fetchen (voice)
...
Themselves (archive footage) (as The Warlocks)
...
Himself (archive footage)
Terry Gross ...
Herself - Interviewer (voice)
Phil Lesh ...
Himself (archive footage)
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Storyline

A freewheeling portrait of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters' fabled road trip across America.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug content, language and some nudity
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Details

Official Sites:

| |  »

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 August 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Magic Bus  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$14,367 (USA) (5 August 2011)

Gross:

$153,943 (USA) (28 October 2011)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ken Kesey's original crew of self-proclaimed "Merry Pranksters" shot about 40 hours of 16-mm film in an unfinished project. Reportedly, Kesey several times showed all 40 hours - unedited - before he stored the film cans in Eugene, Oregon. They were rusting away until saved by the documentary directors, who first discovered they existed in 2004. See more »

Quotes

Ken Kesey: What it meant, was that everybody had to consider a new way for things to be. Don't you know that we're all one? The deeper I got into it, the more I realized it was a different force working. The only big mistake we made, as a force, was thinking for a while that we were going to win. We developed vested interests in the victory to come. We begin to parcel off into little groups, whether it's feminism or politics. For money, religion, whatever it is; everybody is jumping up and down in front ...
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Connections

Featured in The Roth Show: The New York City Way (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Hi Heel Sneackers
Written by Tommy Tucker (as Robert Higgibotham)
Published by Lily Pond Music
Performed by Tommy Tucker
Courtesy of Geffen Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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User Reviews

 
Honest look at mid-sixties might only be for most voracious viewers
19 December 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Magic Trip is a real-time documentary, cobbled together from 40-year-old film, about a cross-country trek just prior to the big hippie invasions of the mid-to-late 1960s. It's a time capsule, and it's a highly informative one for those of us who weren't there. It's a jumping-off point to explain the lovefests, the Be-Ins, the protests, the marches, the Woodstocks, and the Altamonts. It's a relic of its time as well, but it's also a genuine look at a mostly far-gone time.

It's 1964. The sixties, we're told, didn't really begin in 1960 (or 1961) but rather in November of 1963, when Kennedy was killed. The nation's innocence was lost, and the younger souls - our baby boomers - looked for something to help guide them into the future. The plastic days of picket-fenced houses and nuclear families were disappearing. People needed something new. That something new, it turned out, was LSD

  • a perfectly legal substance at the time.




Ken Kesey was the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a writer of some reknown. In '63, he and a few friends were visiting New York City and witnessed the preparations for the following year's World's Fair. Kesey, who lived in Oregon, determined on the spot that he'd grab some people and make a trip across America to the fair. The group would up too big for a station wagon, so an old International Harvester bus was procured and customized, including plenty of filming equipment. The bus was painted in an array of bright, friendly, psychedelic colors, and off they went.

The group called itself the Merry Pranksters, and everyone had his or her own nickname. Along for the ride was Neil Cassady. Never heard of him? You should read Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road; the character of Dean Moriarity was based on Cassady. Cassady was a real character, a speed-taking oddity who drove like a maniac and had zillions of stories to tell. All he needed was an audience.

Like most documentaries, this movie will be enjoyed best by those who were present during that era and by those who wish they were. If you're not emotionally invested in the story, you might think you're watching a bunch of wackos on drugs careen about the country, having sex every three seconds and dropping acid. You'd be right, but you might not enjoy it much. And surely not as much as the participants did.

If I recall, the movie uses nothing but the footage shot during the trip to New York, with some new narration by actor Stanley Tucci. This lends quite the feel of veritas to the proceedings; it's exactly like watching home movies, at least if your family is a little deranged. But drugs or not, what's interesting is that we see hardly any real conflicts - people get along, for the most part, even when some leave the trip before reaching the final destination. It's a good-vibe film, and none of it feels manufactured.

I guess that's what I find most appealing about Magic Trip. It's honest, and it's fun. It gives you a glimpse into those sometimes twisted times - times, it should be noted, look like a cakewalk compared to what we have now. In '64, we weren't even heavily into Vietnam, and the anti- hippie tone had yet to sweep the nation. The bus got pulled over numerous times, but since hippiedom was so new, cops just figured the occupants were college kids out having fun. Ah, for those times now.


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