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'Go Further,' It's Real Simple

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 5, 2004; Page WE36

WOODY HARRELSON doesn't want to stop at "Grass." That would be the 1999 documentary, which he narrated, extolling the virtues of marijuana and the stiff resistance to its use on the part of the U.S. government and the media. In "Go Further," a warmly spirited travel diary of a movie, director Ron Mann (who also made "Grass") follows the actor as he leads a bus tour intended to promote an alternative lifestyle.

Alternative, that is, to biotechnologically processed foods, such as milk, Big Macs and chocolate. On this 2001 "SOL Tour" (which stands for "simple organic living"), Harrelson visits colleges between Seattle and Los Angeles, advocating the positive uses of hemp, a product that can be used for food, clothing and even fuel. Harrelson's Ken Kesey-styled, flamboyantly decorated tour bus, for instance, runs on hempseed oil. And his posse of friends and fellow activists, including his own raw-food chef and yoga instructor, wear hemp clothes and eat hemp-derived foods.


No more "Cheers": Woody Harrelson aims for a healthier lifestyle, including yoga at sunrise. (Abramorama)

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Hemp can reduce dependence on paper products, Harrelson points out, which could help stop deforestation of the Earth, and the ongoing extinction of many animals and birds. And he also advocates vegetarianism, organic farming, solar power and zero pesticides.

It may sound like the No Fun Tour, but thanks to Harrelson's winning, almost goofy ways, the whole thing feels like a clown revolution. He charms lumber company security guards, students and anyone who'll listen, even when he's dispensing didactic or gross-out facts. Milk from hormonally raised cows, Harrelson repeatedly tells audiences, is filled with blood and pus.

I may never eat cornflakes again.

Harrelson has a pretty funny sidekick: Steve Clark, an activist convert, or near-convert, whose struggles with his smoking habits, as well as his chocolate jones every time he passes a 7-Eleven, can be pretty amusing. Spirulina only goes so far for the Steve-O. But he's got a mind to make this lifestyle work. In one hilarious scene, he stops a truck full of zoned-out meth users and persuades them to try some seaweed cookies. Talk about the dude leading the dudes.

Structurally, there isn't a whole lot to talk about. Director Mann, who also made "Comic Book Confidential" and "Twist," simply follows Harrelson and his crowd around, as they talk to students, or visit a cool worm farm, or spend time with Ken Kesey and his original, now rundown rust-bus he and his Merry Pranksters rode around for his war-protest stunts in the 1960s.

This film is about a spirit that's pretty hard to resist. Harrelson gets his message (with such slogans as "Say No to Corndogs") across patiently, disarmingly, either persuading a crowd at a time or a person at a time. (Although not everyone is thrilled to see Harrelson's bicycle sporting a Stars and Stripes flag purposely turned upside down.) We see the tour's easygoing influence on a British student named Linda, who impulsively joins them on tour, bicycles around with Harrelson and appears to get very friendly with Steve in the bargain. It's the kind of person-to-person revolution Harrelson's looking for. No pressure, no fuss, just gentle persuasion. Works like a charm.

GO FURTHER (Unrated, 80 minutes) -- Contains momentary marijuana smoking and discussion, and brief semi-nudity. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.


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