April 16, 2023

And the Oscar Goes to...COCAINE BEAR

2023 / 95 min
Review by Tiger the Terrible😺

Amusingly, the video release of Cocaine Bear is labeled the “Maximum Rampage Edition,” even though it’s actually the only edition. Still, such a gonzo description, however meaningless, certainly reflects the tone of the movie. It might even be meant as a joke.

Of course, the title alone made Cocaine Bear a viral sensation before it was even released. Even if it turned out to be a movie that beat its one joke to death long before the end credits, mission accomplished. To a certain horror crowd, movies marketed with such intentionally goofy scenarios are irresistible.

But unlike, say, Snakes on a Plane, Cocaine Bear isn’t quite a one-joke movie. Sure, its wild premise drives the plot, which gets an additional boost from being somewhat inspired by a true story (and highly touted in the ad campaign). In 1985, a black bear did indeed ingest a shitload of blow that was dropped from an airplane by a smuggler. Sadly, the real bear overdosed and died, which would make for a damn depressing movie. 

But here, the titular critter goes on a coked-up rampage, her new habit fueled by kilos dropped all over the Georgia hills. Those unfortunate enough to come across her usually end up dying in scenes that are both gory and hilarious. The ambulance sequence, in particular, is a delirious highlight. But while the bear is the unequivocal star - and often the protagonist - the film doesn’t simply coast on the novelty of its concept. Cocaine Bear features a lot of genuinely funny characters (including the so-called 'bad guys') and witty dialogue, along with a few amusing subplots and running gags unrelated to the bear.

"The hell you say!"
The interest level only wanes during the scenes featuring single mom Sari (Keri Russell in a thankless role), daughter Dee Dee and her friend, Henry. They simply aren’t as engaging or funny as everyone else, including Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr), a dedicated cop unhappy with his new dog, and overzealous park ranger Liz (Margo Martindale), who’s infatuated with animal activist Peter (Jesse Taylor Ferguson). But my favorites are Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) and Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr), two guys ordered to retrieve the coke by Eddie’s drug-running dad, Syd, played by the late, great Ray Liotta. Speaking of which, Liotta may have less screen time than the other actors, but despite being the only clear-cut antagonist, he does deliver the film’s funniest line. 

Though unapologetically gory, Cocaine Bear isn't a horror movie, nor does it really try to be. It’s mostly comic in tone and very funny, earning laughs without ever descending into self-awareness or campy exploitation. Nobody’s ever gonna mistake it for high art, but it’s a hell of a good time. At the very least, there’s more to the film than just a great title.


FEATURETTES - “All Roads Lead to Cokey: The Making of Cocaine Bear”; “UnBEARable Bloodbath: Dissecting the Kills”; “Doing Lines.”

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Elizabeth Banks and producer Max Handelman.



GAG REEL - Of course.


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