The movie I’m reviewing today is Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus, I’ll start off with a spoiler. The highest goal to aspire to in life is to create art. What, you think I was going to spoil the movie? No, I’m first spoiling life itself for you. Children? Be patient, the Siberian permafrost will start burping methane in the next few years and you’ll realize having kids is a dumb idea at this point. Saving the world? That’s worse than having kids, that’s delusional narcissism.
No, the purpose of life is to create art. The guys and gals who came up with Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus pulled that one of. I’m obviously biased. Mescaline is my favorite psychedelic, so when someone makes a movie about psychedelic cactuses, you can guess that I’m interested. The thing is however that it’s genuinely a good movie.
Although the title might suggest otherwise, it’s not a stoner movie. If you’re looking for a stoner movie, skip this one. In fact, you want to watch this one sober. It’s full of cringeworthy social subtleties that you’ll struggle to pick up on when you’re toying with your neurochemistry.
The movie stars Michael Cera as Jamie. Jamie is your stereotypical self-absorbed American tourist, traveling in Chile to eat a San Pedro cactus and have a psychedelic adventure. In itself that’s dumb enough, you can just as easily trip on San Pedro in the US.
What makes the movie interesting though, is that Jamie is also socially awkward. Empathy doesn’t seem to be something that comes automatically to him. It’s something he has to try to force. When he’s high on cocaine at a party, he invites two transgender street prostitutes in. He asks them how long they have been doing their “job”. Awkwardness ensues.
The prostitutes leave rapidly, but Jamie makes another mistake like this. He gives his number to a girl he and his friends don’t actually want to hang out with. Eventually she calls them and they pick her up, she’s eager to join them on their mescaline adventure.
Jamie is very relateable, because his flaws are so obvious. He has an almost autistic obsession with mescaline. In his process of trying to acquire a mescaline cactus, he alienates himself from all the people who want to be friends with him. He also has a very materialistic worldview, I don’t mean that in the sense of trying to pursue wealth, I mean that he scoffs at any form of spirituality. He almost manages to make Redditors look like people with redeeming value in comparison.
What makes the movie so impressive is that it gets to the core of the message that the Sacred Cactus likes to convey. When Jamie and his friends take the cactus, the movie doesn’t bother with funky visuals or trippy effects. Rather, it reveals the lesson that Father Cactus has wanted to teach Jamie and humanity as a whole all along: Empathy.
It’s hard to produce art that genuinely does justice to psychedelics. This is particularly true for the naturally occurring ones, that predate humanity and carry within them a perennial lesson about the world we inhabit. You want to portray them in their modern Western cultural context, but you simultaneously want to convey their deepest message without coming off as pretentious or out of touch. Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus accomplishes just that.
On a side note, some of you must be wondering what the deal is with the Magical Cactus Forest Party. The party is still scheduled to go ahead within the next two weeks, if all goes according to plan and enough people want to join. If you want more information, you simply need to join the Telegram channel, where the magical cactus forest party crew will soon announce the exact date on which the party will be held.