Cocaine Bear comes exactly as advertised for its darkly absurd creature feature allure. There’s a bear, there’s cocaine, the bear does the cocaine, and the bear goes on a killing spree. Thankfully, it follows through on the absurdity by presenting more than just the silliness of the idea.
Cocaine Bear’s Wild True Story
Right from the film’s start, Cocaine Bear stresses the actual events surrounding this story. It was 1985, and drug smuggling was massive in the United States. Drug smuggler Andrew C. Thornton II was transporting some cocaine via plane until an accident sent him falling to his death.
While his body was found in a suburb, his plane crashed in Georgia. The cocaine landed in a national park where a black bear discovered it. The bear, curiously, consumed the cocaine.
The intro conveys the story’s truth through accurate news reports of Thornton’s death. It also highlights the 1980s anti-drug PSAs and cites bear facts from Wikipedia. It’s a comforting opening to let you know that while this story is true, director Elizabeth Banks will have fun with it.
The Human Prey
Caught up in the black bear’s rampage is a host of unique characters. Christian Convery and Brooklynn Prince are two foul-mouthed kids who flee from the beast. Keri Russell plays a nurse seeking them with the help of the slick-talking ranger, played by Margo Martindale.
Seeking out the cocaine is the sad-sack Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) and his aggravated partner Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.). They’re trying to get back their coke for their grumpy mob boss (Ray Liotta), who happens to be Eddie’s father. Also tracking them is the quirky detective Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), tasked with caring for a dog he doesn’t want.
These characters collide at a national park while the black bear sniffs coke and snuffs humans. Her carnage includes severing limbs, clawing faces, and even chasing down cars. And, yes, you’ll get to see all the nasty, gory bits of this violent bonanza.
However, some of the funniest deaths are not caused by the bear. The crossfire of guns and vicious fights led to stabbings, lost fingers, and exploding heads. One of the funniest moments occurs when Martindale misses a shot at the bear, killing a punk kid and only half-apologizing for her error.
The unexpected giddiness of this scenario is ever-present. While the bear only seems to be seeking out cocaine, she also seems to attack visitors slasher style. She’s also trying to protect her cubs (also on cocaine), leading to the movie’s most surprising aspect.
It’s About Parents And Children
Yes, Cocaine Bear has a central theme amid all its B-movie bloodshed. Like a Fast & Furious movie, it’s all about family. Specifically, the film focuses on the connection between parents and children.
Every character has some level of responsibility for somebody they care for. Keri Russell is a mom who needs to step up, and Eddie is a single father who needs to stand up to his dad. Daveed becomes a father figure to some misled punks of the park. Even Isiah Whitlock Jr. has some fatherly aspects for caring for a dog.
All of it ties together with the central bear’s desire to protect her young. There’s even a decent message in how the obsession with drugs leads to paths of violence. It all bubbles to a stirring climax where redemption is sought when children are in danger.
A Dose of the Ludicrous
Despite the blunt theme, much of Cocaine Bear plays itself lightly. Banks leaves this premise up to the actors to give the film its character edge. To their credit, this ensemble doesn’t disappoint.
Sure, Russell and Liotta are great because, well, they always bring their best to the table. Alden Ehrenreich sympathized with his exaggerated sadness and perfect comedic timing. However, Martindale and Whitlock steal the show as the biggest gun-toters with the best comedic lines.
All the characters speak with a slightly exaggerated silliness for their open nature. This is best seen with Christian Convery and Brooklynn Prince, talking like kids from South Park with their limited perspective on cocaine. The scene where they first try cocaine and then try to cover it up is hilarious.
Conclusion: Cocaine Bear
Running at 95 minutes, Cocaine Bear is a simplistic dose of solid horror-comedy fun. For being a film about a rampaging bear high on drugs, it’s precisely the ridiculous and entertaining film one would expect. There are also a few surprises, but the bulk of the fun comes from its guaranteed elements of blood and drugs.
It’s a step up from the laziness of direct-to-video creature features, thanks to a strong cast, but let’s be honest here. The biggest draw for this film is watching the coked-up bear slaughter people. And it’s a hoot!
Did you see Cocaine Bear in the theater? Was it funny? Did it need more blood or cocaine? Let us know in the comments below.
Cocaine Bear is currently playing in theaters everywhere.