Included in the current surge of original content on Netflix are some pretty strong documentaries. One of the docs that Netflix have exclusively released recently, is ‘Take your Pills’. The documentary explores the pitfalls of the over-prescribed, over-medicated drugs culture in America.
‘Take Your Pills’ comes across almost like a riff on ‘Bigger Stronger Faster’. This is due to their discussion of Adderall as a ‘performance enhancing drug’. This time though, they are enhancing performance in academia rather than sport and bodybuilding. This is interesting because Chris Bell, creator of ‘Bigger Stronger Faster’ also directed ‘Prescription Thugs’. The latter explores the same topic as this doc.
There is a lot of fascinating information in this documentary, presented in a fresh style that craftily incorporates animated visuals. The documentary makers presented Adderall and substances like it almost as the wonder drug from ‘Limitless’.
Balance is always needed in documentary film making but at times, it was unclear what the producers were trying to say. They were showing the audience how many people are abusing and reliant on attention deficit drugs but at the same time, they were telling us that the effects are amazing.
The doc is quite fast paced and engaging, this is no doubt due to its fresh and lively style. With that said, its attempts to be cutting edge felt forced at times. An example of this is the use of emojis in the on-screen text. That made me cringe a bit.
I liked the look it gave us at the impact on popular culture, however, what it lacked was a strong human element. All good documentaries tell a person’s story. We follow them on their journey. This was done well in ‘Flint Town’ another new doc from Netflix.
‘Take Your Pills’ gave us a snapshot of different individuals affected by the topic but it did not feel like we got a strong story arc. The ‘Take Your Pills’ tag is where the documentary all fits together and it was a clever way of finding a title for it. If the film had just followed the artist who used that tag, there would be a more satisfying and compelling storyline to it.
Despite the fact that it is not new ground, ‘Take Your Pills’ is an engaging watch with some interesting insights. Ultimately though, it lacks purpose and a strong through-line.