Pharma Bro Documentary Review, Attempt to Befriend Martin Shrkeli

Pharma Bro is a documentary about the life, times, and possible heel character created by Martin Shrkeli. He’s more than a vowel short of being a nice person. Known mostly for raising drug prices several years ago for his own profit, this documentary sets out on a mission to uncover whether or not Shkreli is as big of an a-hole as he portrays himself to be.

In another life, in another time, and with many more steroids, Shrkeli would make a great wrestling heel. In reality, the Pharma Bro is more of a wormsnakeweasle.

The documentary Pharma Bro sets out to get to know him a little better. The documentarian goes as far as to live in the same building as Shrkeli. His plan is to cozy up and understand whether he’s as bad of a guy as he seems in the media.

The problem with Pharma Bro is that we know nothing else about who the real Martin Shrkeli is. Can a documentary be worth watching if it fails with what it set out to accomplish?

Pharma Bro is a well-intentioned documentary with a failed mission

I was expecting a lot more insight into who Martin Shrkeli truly is. Instead, we get only a small number of scenes with the filmmaker near him. They hardly become friends. The closest they ever get is the filmmaker bringing him a six pack of beers during the trial as a sort of peace offering. This does lead to Shrkeli openly talking on one of his live streams about how he appreciates the kindness of neighbors. For a brief moment, he’s less Satan and more Mr. Rogers.

Because this is a single film and not a series, the build up to these small moments between the filmmaker and Shrkeli are almost irrelevant. It would have been a much more interesting premise if they actually did become buddies, shared some secrets, and maybe even got into a tickle fight or two. Shkreli is probably sharp enough to have realized there was an ulterior motive. It may have been a little too ambitious to ever believe the mask could be fully removed.

The attempt to somewhat humanize Shkreli is mostly a failure in a documentary that doesn’t succeed with its goal. We do meet people who have kind things to say about him. Amazingly, none are succubuses.

A Martin Shrkeli documentary is something that we were bound to see. He has a lot in common with Elizabeth Holmes. These big personality types who storm into the public and become villains are common fodder for documentaries. Shrkeli, in a strange way, does seem a little more well-intentioned than Holmes. Her whole business was built on a lie. His was on capitalism. He never made any secrets about it either. He’s not a fraudster in this regard. His other crimes, however, do show another shady side of him.

The Pharma Bro documentary would have been a lot better if we actually got some answers. Instead, it’s more of a profile of Shrkeli’s life and a few shots of him in or outside of where he lives. It’s a massive fail as far as this goes. As a documentary, it’s entertaining enough.

Let’s look at the old phrase “it’s about the journey, not the destination.” If true, Pharma Bro isn’t a bad watch. Just don’t expect to learn anything new about him.

Overall Score: 6 out of 10

Pharma Bro loses a lot of points because it doesn’t achieve what it sets out to do. It’s an enjoyable enough watch without the payoff. You’ll have the documentary watching version of blue balls after.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: