Review: 'Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus'

Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus
Gaby Hoffman and Michael Cera prepare the San Pedro cactus, which they consume as a tea in ’Crystal Fairy.’

Here's a first: A stoner movie about taking San Pedro cactus. Starring Michael Cera, Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus is set on a deserted beach in Chile.

Cera plays Jamie, an abrasive America bent on trying the cactus (mescaline) he read about in Doors of Perception. At a party, he and his three Chilean friends, Champa, Le and Pilo (they're actually brothers - Juan, Jose and Agustin Silva, the sons of director Sebastian Silva) - meet Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffman), a free-spirited traveler who joins them on their journey.

A nudist at heart, Crystal is renamed "Hairy Fairy" after her armpits by Jamie; in turn, she calls him "pollo." Actually, Jamie's pretty daring; he chops up a cactus plant in an old lady's front yard, then meticulously cleans the spiky stalk and brews it up into a green tea, which all but one of them consume (Pilo declines).

The trip is not of the psychedelic variety. There's no weird colors or shifting shapes. Crystal gets lost. At the campfire that night Crystal reveals she was raped when she was 17. Crystal has another secret that Jamie discovers when he leafs through her drawing book.

The Chileans provide good vibes and a general satisfaction with life. Their trips are fun and mellow.

Cera continues to push the envelope (he was last seen snorting coke in This Is the End). His Jamie is not very likeable; he's an ugly American with a repressed heart of gold.

Hoffman is the film's real revelation. The daughter of Viva, who starred in Andy Warhol movies, she fits the Crystal role like a glove.

A road movie of sorts, Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus lacks the depth of, say, Y Tu Mama Tambien (set in Mexico). It sheds some light on Chilean stoner culture and is also a terrific travelogue of the country's Lost Coast.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.