One of my favorite jokes is about a man goes to the doctor seeking "smart pills," only to walk out with a sample of what turns out to be rabbit droppings. When he returns to the doc and points out that the "pills" are actually poop, the doc says, "See, you're getting smarter already!" Netflix's new documentary Take Your Pills is the 90-minute equivalent of the "smart pills."
That is not necessarily the fault of documentaries like Take Your Pills, which was directed by Alison Klayman (Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry) and produced by Maria Shriver and her daughter Christina Schwarzenegger. Nobody should watch any sort of movie to make them smarter, not even if it's a so-called educational film, and definitely not if it's something falling into the category of an "issue" documentary. But the Netflix original masquerades as an educational experience, and as such, it has the power to confuse and misinform.
In my case, it made me extremely angry. The film addresses the increase in the use of prescription stimulants, particularly Adderall, by students, athletes, and competitive professionals in the worlds of finance and tech. Take Your Pills asks, according to its synopsis, "At what cost?"
Well, for anyone without proper information on the drugs, the cost can be the same as any substance abused out of ignorance. Take Your Pills features a number of characters offering testimonials about their experiences with Adderall, and rather than providing evidence that such a controlled substance is bad in and of itself, they reveal themselves to be deluded, exceptional in their experiences or having had acted stupidly.