Updated: Mar 5
Straight from the "what in the world is this?" pile, Elizabeth Banks (2015's Pitch Perfect 2) returns to direct what is easily the most amazingly absurd concepts in recent years. Based loosely on an actual 1985 event, Cocaine Bear has snorted its way onto movie screens to hopefully keep winter audiences warm with all the horror and comedy this feature intends to provide.
Jimmy Warden (2020's Babysitter: Killer Queen) wrote the script and stars Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Ray Liotta (in one of his final roles), Isiah Whitlock Jr., Brooklynn Prince, Christian Convery, Ayoola Smart, Margo Martindale & Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
An American black bear in a Georgia forest ingests a lot of cocaine that was thrown out a perfectly good airplane. Syd (Liotta), a drug dealer, sends his son, Eddie (Ehrenreich), and Daveed (Jackson Jr.) to recover the drugs, all while Nashville police detective Bob (Whitlock Jr.) is hot on their tails. Meanwhile, Sari (Russell) heads to the same forest to find her teenage daughter, Dee Dee (Prince). Dee Dee skipped school with her friend, Henry (Convery), to spray paint the falls, mainly to defy her mom. Of course, all these parties cross paths with "bear yayo," and all hilarity ensues.
Honestly, none of those storylines are important (some could even argue it's not necessary). They exist solely for the purpose of having people around for the bear to "interact" with. The genius thing about Cocaine Bear is that Banks and Warden know all of it is crazy and silly. But instead of making sense of it, they leaned into its stupidity - and Cocaine Bear is all the better for it. Is it a comedy-horror masterpiece? Absolutely not. It is what it is - an opportunity to greatly exaggerate, in brutal and amusing ways, what a bear would do after having consumed enough cocaine to make Rick James blush.
As a result, we have bear attacking random people in a multitude of ways. Bear climbs tree to lick blow off a cocaine-coated man - check. Bear swallows an entire key of cocaine - check. Bear snorts cocaine off a dismembered leg - check. Bear passes out from all the cocaine, while on top of a human being - check. These are a few of the outrageous things a viewer can expect if they venture out to watch this off the rails horror-comedy.
Speaking of which, Cocaine Bear is light on the scares - I believe Banks knew it would be a difficult task to orchestrate genuine fear. In order to make up for that, she showcased some gruesome deaths. I'll abstain from providing any more details, because half of the film's fun is witnessing the bear's carnage and destruction. I can say this - there is roughly 30-40 seconds of footage that provides three separate (yet interconnected) deaths that, from a horror standpoint, could compete with some of cinema's all-time most grisly kills.
All of this is meant to be in good fun, so as long as you're on board for that kind of thing, you'll likely have a blast. JV
3 out of 5 stars