This is a dumb film. It’s about a bear that eats a whole bunch of cocaine that was dropped over the forest it lives in, and then goes on a rampage killing everyone in its path. Of course, this is a dumb film.
But it’s an enjoyable dumb film. Written by Jimmy Warden and directed by Elizabeth Banks, this film stars Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Ray Liotta. Cocaine Bear marks the last film that Liotta stars in, he passed away in 2022.
The film advertises the fact that it is inspired by actual events, and I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that there’s no way this could happen. However, it actually sort of happened. In 1985, a plane crashed in North Carolina that was on autopilot. About the same time, the pilot, Andrew Thornton, was found dead in Knoxville, Tennessee, wearing a parachute. That guy apparently had left Columbia with 12 duffel bags full of cocaine. A few months later, a hunter notified authorities after he discovered a dead bear in the forests. There was a parachute and a duffel bag near it. An autopsy of the bear showed that the bear had absorbed about three to four grams of cocaine. That amount of cocaine was the cause of death for the bear.
There’s a couple of big changes between the movie and the actual events. For one, the bear consumed less cocaine than in the film. And two, the bear in real life didn’t go on a massacre.
So, this is the part where I look at a couple of elements and then rank the film in that category out of five. At the end, I’ll add everything up and then the average of those rankings will show exactly what I thought of the film.
For the most part, the actors did a good job. There were a couple of characters that were a little bit past the line of acceptable goofiness. The actors that were the best included Ray Liotta, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Christian Convery, and Margo Martindale. I felt Russell wasn’t giving her best performance, but it wasn’t as bad as some of the side characters. Convery was one of the two child actors and he delivered some of the better lines. Whitlock was memorable because he plays his normal role as a detective except, he has this love/hate relationship with his rescue dog.
The strength of this movie is that the story is simplistic in nature. A bear ingests cocaine, some kids and a movie get involved accidentally, and some criminals try to find the dumped cocaine while a detective tracks them. They all unwittingly enter into a national park where there’s a coked-up bear that only wants more of the white powder and will kill anyone that gets in its way. The motivations of the characters to be in that particular national forest at that particular time were all natural. The only character motivations that seemed a little sketchy were the gang of young dudes that would travel the hiking paths mugging hikers.
Going into this film, you’re expecting lots of bear-on-human mutilation and slaughter. And that’s what you get and more. The blood is excessive, the mutilation is excessive, the amount of cocaine the bear eats is excessive. And it’s only appropriate because of the fact that the film is titled Cocaine Bear. Anything less than excessive would be a letdown.
While I loved this film, I really don’t think I’ll watch it more than twice (including the time I saw it in the theater). It’s not really a film that has Easter eggs or hidden references and unless it’s going to be part of a drugged-up animal cinematic universe, it’s not really much of a rewatchable film.
There are a million movies about bears attacking people. There’s a plethora of man verse beast films out there. However, I don’t know of a film about a bear that ingests multiple bricks of cocaine and goes on a hilarious killing spree.
Post Film Feelings: 5/5
I went into the film thinking good thoughts about Cocaine Bear and I wasn’t disappointed. When I was watching the film, I laughed at about 90 percent of the jokes and so did the rest of the theater. I attended the film with four other friends, and they all liked the film as well. On the way home we laughed and talked about the film. Even now, after all the reviews I’ve seen criticizing the film, I still have good feelings about Cocaine Bear.
Overall Score: 4.6/5
This topped my list of films I’ve seen this year. The next day I watched We Have a Ghost and it easily defeated Cocaine Bear for the number one spot. However, I think that this film about a bear eating cocaine easily will place in the top ten for this year of movies. It’s fun, hilarious, and bloody. This isn’t a film to take the family to as it is rated R for bloody violence and gore, drug content and language throughout.
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