The runaway commercial success of films like Fahrenheit 9/11 and Super Size Me opened the floodgates for the theatrical release of an historic number of documentaries. The result has been a golden age not just for riveting, timely docs like Control Room, but also for slapdash, irrelevant efforts lucky enough to piggyback their way into wholly unearned theatrical runs. Go Further, the latest film from veteran documentarian Ron Mann, belongs in the latter category. Like much of Mann's work, it's an unabashed love letter to the counterculture. But this time out, Mann has made an unintentionally vicious satire of the fuzzyheaded self-intoxication and impracticality of the progressive left, a film that's far more scathing than anything Tom Wolfe could dream up.
Largely abandoning the day-glo giddiness, witty collages, and pop playfulness that made previous Mann efforts like Grass so delightful, Go Further documents Woody Harrelson's lecture tour promoting the virtues of organic eating, the vegan lifestyle, environmentalism, yoga, bicycling, and other hippie bullshit. Harrelson and his raw-food-loving, tree-hugging space-cadet allies are like Ken Kesey (who makes an all-too-brief cameo appearance) and his Merry Pranksters, but without all the wit and originality: They set out to lead by example, but Mann and Harrelson have seriously overestimated the charm of their motley crew, most of whom come off like the obnoxious guy in every dorm who subjects everyone within earshot to long, rambling, invariably stoned monologues about the myriad uses of hemp. Worse, the film makes alarmist, largely unsupported assertions about matters like the blood and pus in milk, which audiences are supposed to buy because they're uttered by a rich celebrity on a psychedelic bus.
A star trip in the truest sense, Go Further positively reeks: of patchouli, of self-parody, but most of all of suffocating, insufferable self-love. It aspires to make converts out of non-believers and fortify the convictions of the faithful, but its smug self-righteousness accomplishes just the opposite, turning off fellow travelers with its shrill sermonizing and undoubtedly creating a Republican or two in the process.