The Pharmacist is a unique take on the man vs. machine argument that continues to gain relevance with each new technological innovation. As Hal the pharmacist (Matthew James Gulbranson) toils away behind the counter, the owner of his pharmacy (Michael Gabel) drops by to introduce a new member of the pharmacy team: a Green Cross pharmaceutical vending machine.
At first, all is well. Despite Hal’s protests, the Green Cross machine performs exactly as advertised, filling prescriptions and working through the customer rush with ease. But can the machine handle those customers that require a bit more care than just having their order filled quickly?
While the base premise isn’t new, the idea of technology replacing people in the name of profit and efficiency, this is the first time I’ve considered it in regards to the pharmaceutical side of things. And, really, could this be that far off (or is it already here)? I know that in Los Angeles you can find medical marijuana vending machines, so would it be all that odd for the more commonly used pharmaceuticals to get their own boxes too?
But the point of this short isn’t to try to figure out the logistics of it, but to appreciate what it is that humans bring to the table in such an interaction. The right person, handling the social dynamics correctly and with care, may not be as fast as the technology suggested here, but the efficiency comes from a different place. Having someone who can answer your questions and problem solve without rigid programming can make for a more considerate experience. A machine, even if it sees the financial difference when insurance changes rates, won’t be able to sympathize or handle a potentially delicate emotional situation.
As far as the short film goes outside of the premise, it is a capable effort all around. It looks good, sounds good and the acting is just where it needs to be. Its reaches for comedy aren’t always that funny, but at least they’re not offensively unfunny. The familiarity of the basic plot leads to a predictability once events are set in motion, but it stays entertaining despite knowing where it’s going.
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