Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern and Dennis Hopper go on a trip
The Trip (1967) is a wild, off-beat movie about people taking drugs, getting high, and seeing things. This movie was counterculture in the late 60s and was a very popular flick. Roger Corman was director and conned some pretty good young stars to act in his counterculture movie. I’m not sure what you call it, actually. Is it a drug movie? A cautionary message? A stupid waste of time? All I know is that Peter Fonda, plus a midget, and some Lord of the Rings imagery is pretty funny.
Peter Fonda is Captain Counterculture, so he’s perfect for the starring role as Paul. Paul’s a loser. He divorced his wife for cheating on him, but he still talks to her and holds a candle for her like a guy who can’t move on. His job is to direct lousy commercials and he hates his life. One day, he feels like “experimenting” to free his brain for some insight, so he talks to his pal John, played by Bruce Dern.
John is a creepy guy. He advises Paul to take a little LSD and “relax”. John describes the “trip” Paul is going to go on and they chat about how wild that is. They visit Max, played by Dennis Hopper, and there’s more talk about wild trips. There’s a drinking game for this movie: take a drink every time they say the word trip.
Back at John’s, Paul takes the LSD and starts seeing things, so he drinks some apple juice. He lies down to relax, but he starts seeing spinning lights. Roger Corman must have enjoyed this movie, because he goes buck wild with the editing. Paul eventually becomes afraid, thinking John died, so he runs away. John drives after him, but can’t catch up.
Paul starts to have visions. He runs through a forest and he is chased by some Nazgul on horseback, straight out of Lord of the Rings. Maybe Peter Jackson saw this movie. The Nazgul chase him around for a while, until he’s helped by an old guy. A midget serves him soup. He can’t eat it. He pictures some hooded figures carrying his body off and flashes of his own death scare him. If you’re confused by this stupid recap, the movie is even more confusing. In any case, Roger Corman does well to highlight the experiences, and zooms in on Paul when appropriate, so we can catch the stupid look on his face as he wonders around.
Paul goes to visit Dennis Hopper and the trippy part continues. His house is decorated with strange, swirling colors out of the 60s, and beads hang everywhere. Corman frames each of his shots with something stupid hanging in the foreground. Now high off his rocker, Paul starts talking like an idiot. He pictures Sophia Loren and sees a midget on a merry-go-round. It’s just weird at this point.
He meets a young woman named Glenn, and some half-inspired themes of commercialism, infidelity, and drugs are scattered throughout their conversation. I couldn’t really understand it though. The best part in the movie, if there is one, is the editing during Glenn and Paul’s drive down a long road. Everything starts flashing and Paul has visions of colors, women, and religious iconography. He walks down into a dungeon. People start dancing amidst the smoke. Some brass band music starts up. WEIRD.
With the flashes before his eyes, I think its is suppose to symbolize the end of Paul’s life, but you could never tell. The visions continue, and he runs along the beach as the Nazgul chase him down, but they never do. Paul and Glenn arrive back at her place and Dennis Hopper is on the merry-go-round. One of the Nazgul finally corners him, and it is actually his ex-wife, revealing his ultimate obsession. Too bad he’s sleeping with Glenn at this point. WEIRD.
Dumb Glenn: Did you find what you were looking for? The insight?
Insightful Paul: Yeah, and I think I love you.
Dumb Glenn: And everybody else.
Insightful Paul: And everybody else.
Dumb Paul: It’s easy now, wait til tomorrow.
Insightful Paul: Yeah well, I’ll think about that tomorrow.
Glenn and Paul wake up and exchange the dumb dialogue above, which is the end of the movie. Seriously. Those lines pretty much sum up this weird movie. The only thing I have to say about it is that the directing and editing was okay. The acting was pretty average and there was no story. A guy just wonders around and sees some visions. He misses his ex-wife. I get it. Stop with the strobe light. The movie never explores any of the themes it hints at, and is content with flashing a bunch of images in hopes of connecting something to the characters. This is just a drug exploitation movie, but at least it’s entertaining. It revels in everything 60s and treats you to endless images, metaphors, and stupidness. If you can get down with that, then you’ll realize groovy is where the far out goes, man.