“One of the most important things you do in your life is die.”
Psychedelic sensei, Dr. Timothy Leary’s life, work and death are fondly reconstructed by DB Babbs, the son of Merry Prankster Ken Babbs, who narrates this rather staid documentary. Although there are some rather innovative psychedelic flourishes in Timothy Leary’s Last Trip, including Ken Kesey’s freaky glow-in-the-dark puppet show with a skeleton, most of the film plays out in a conservative news doc manner.
As much about the psychedelic movement, Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters and The Grateful Dead as it is about Leary himself, Timothy Leary’s Last Trip is mostly a refresher course in ‘60s counterculture events. However, when the focus of the documentary shifts to the months following Leary’s diagnosis of terminal prostate cancer and the months leading up to his demise, a portrait is painted of an enlightened warrior bravely facing imminent death.
“You have to earn those wrinkles. You can’t order smile wrinkles from your plastic surgeon. You have to earn those wrinkles.”
The second half of Timothy Leary’s Last Trip is an intimate, personal account of Leary’s very public last days as he reunites with his friends, Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs and heroically broadcasts his message of transcendence to the world via his Internet home page, leary.com. This provides a nice companion piece to Timothy Leary’s Dead, Paul David’s slightly more detailed (and exploitative) documentary released the same year.