As attention grabbing titles go, Cocaine Bear is a pretty good one. Simple, effective, and tells you what you are going to get.
Is there a bear? Yes. Is it on cocaine? Most definitely. Is the rest of the film going to be as high as the titular Ursus Americanus?
Ok, so bear with me…
What Is Cocaine Bear About?
When you fire up a film called Cocaine Bear then a certain amount of kookiness is surely part of the mental deal you make with yourself.
Director Elizabeth Banks and writer Jimmy Warden take the real story of an American black bear that ate through a duffel bag of cocaine it found dropped into its woods from a drug running airplane.
That real bear died, end of story. This fictitious bear, however, gets a taste for the white stuff.
Cinema does love a deranged and dangerous animal and Cocaine Bear gives you precisely that. This bear isn’t here to party all night and knock out a jazz fusion album though.
Turns out cocaine is rather moreish; when a bear gets the munchies it isn’t a good idea for humans to be nearby.
Banks skews Cocaine Bear into comedy horror with little stand out moments in either camp.
The horror comes courtesy of a plethora of bear mauling that tick the ‘fun gore’ box but with a weaker marker pen each time. The comedy comes from our human cast, which is a mixed bag.
Dee Dee and Henry bicker like the school children they are and get the initial gears of plot in motion due to getting lost in the woods.
They are used little and often enough that their scenes sprinkle a welcome angle, with the young Henry (Christian Convery) giving it 100% and stealing scenes like its nothing.
The criminal duo sent to trace the missing cocaine consists of a weary Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) and earnest Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) whose bickering provides a decent handful of gems.
Veering into more genre territory is the bullish Ranger Liz (Margo Martindale, Justified) and underused wildlife activist Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) who provide the slapstick with varying results.
That said, Ranger Liz certainly sustains one of the most grating injuries in the movie.
Cocaine Bear Official Trailer
Is Cocaine Bear Worth Watching?
With a combination of characters searching for things, people, and safety, the whole movie is a hodgepodge of chucking one-note characters at the screen and hoping that will sustain the concept.
Surprisingly, for decent chunks of time the inherent silliness bear hugs it all together. Genre fans will appreciate the bloodshed and ‘just go with it’ daftness and at 95 minutes Cocaine Bear doesn’t demand too much of your time.
The high cannot be sustained, though. It’s a shame that despite some good use of Ray Liotta, in his last movie before his untimely death, he spends his final scenes in a very darkly lit set.
Also, the fact that the cocaine has rejuvenating qualities comparable to Popeye eating spinach grows quickly tiresome, as does an ill advised ‘dancing horny bear’ sequence that should have hit the cutting room floor.
All in all Cocaine Bear cuts in enough of the quality goods to make it a worthwhile evening, even if it leaves you with a banging headache the morning after.
Words by Mike Record
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