Published Jan 29, 2009With hallucinogenic animations, un-showered and mercurial interview subjects and a hippie-dippy Flaming Lips soundtrack, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that Know Your Mushrooms will appeal mainly to an audience that knows their mushrooms all too well. As such, the doc succeeds in communicating its dewy, twee message of fungal celebrations and mysticism to this sub-cultural demo that loves anything involving earthly goodness and/or bongos.
While entirely granola with talks of toxins, herbal remedies and the need to be green, the documentary is well crafted, clipping along at a brisk pace while remaining engaging and informative. Anyone familiar with the Ron Mann oeuvre, such as Grass, Dream Tower and Comic Book Confidential, will know what to expect and as such, will not be disappointed with the enthusiastic and mostly sincere presentation.
By conducting interviews at the Telluride Mushroom Festival, Mushrooms presents its various arguments and points in clearly divided segments that focus on perceptions, cuisine, narcotic use, healing powers and otherworldly use of fungus. Various animations, archival footage and comedic trivia points are used to spice up the offerings and propel the narrative forward.
From the perspective of purpose the doc stumbles a little, as aside from some archaic animations about the dangers of eating strange mushrooms "the man" generally doesn't hold anyone back from exploring medicinal or cuisine-based uses, aside from the variety typically laced with PSP for the desired effect.
In addition, from the point of view of proffering information, very little is new or surprising, except perhaps the idea that mushrooms are from space, or rather, that the rest of the planet is not a composite of such material.
Quibbles aside, the whole mind/body/spirit gang should find enjoyment in the many minute observations offered, as they intrinsically mean a great deal more to those under the influence. (Films We Like)