To say COCAINE BEAR makes for a fun time at the movies would be a severe understatement. Directed by Elizabeth Banks, this raucous film is a movie you need to see in theaters, with the biggest crowd possible, to bask in the entertaining cringes, “oh nos”, and gasps of fellow audience members. Usually I hate when people are loud in theaters, and I’m not advocating you go nuts watching this film. But I think it is virtually impossible to not allow noise escape your lips when you see a film like COCAINE BEAR. It is absurd, funny, compelling, brutal, and downright one of the goriest movies I have ever seen.
Most importantly, for all of you fellow animal lovers like me that are scared to see this out of fear for the bear’s safety, I can assure you there is no need to worry about Cocaine Bear. She (yes Cocaine Bear is a girl) does just fine and you only need to look away towards the end when she comes under brief distress. I don’t know what it says about me, but I was rooting for her to kill everyone in the movie the entire time! And kill people she does… so buckle up.
COCAINE BEAR is inspired by the 1985 true story of a drug runner who dropped kilos of cocaine from his plane into the Georgia wilderness before falling to his death. Sadly, a black bear ingested 75lbs of the cocaine and died from the overdose. However, this film reimagines that story. What if the bear didn’t die? What if he ingested all of that cocaine, got addicted, and went berserk on everyone in the nearby forest as she searched for more? That’s where we begin this film. But now that we have our “villain”, who are her victims?
Enter kids Henry (Christian Convery) and Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince), who sneak into their local forest to paint a picture of a hidden waterfall. But when they find a brick of cocaine, it’s only a matter of time before Cocaine Bear comes :ahem: sniffing. Dee Dee’s mom Sari (Keri Russell) notices the kids are missing and immediately enlists the help of Park Ranger Liz (Margo Martindale) and Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) to help locate them. But when they find Henry hiding in a tree and Dee Dee missing altogether, they know something terrible has happened.
David (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) are our next
victims trekkers. They are sent to the forest to locate and retrieve the missing cocaine to return to drug kingpin Syd (Ray Liotta) before the cartel wonders what’s going on. They initially think their only hurdles are overcoming Eddie’s grief from breaking up with his girlfriend Joan and countering the threat from a local teenage gang that roams the woods… until they come face to face with Cocaine Bear.
I already talked about COCAINE BEAR being so much fun. And a major reason why the film is so entertaining is because the script has the perfect balance between camp, comedy, horror, and action. The film never ventures too far into any genre, instead sitting perfectly in the middle of the Venn diagram. Think if you put WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, ANACONDA, and SNAKES ON A PLANE in a mixer… out pops COCAINE BEAR.
Cocaine Bear may be the selling point, and believe me I get it, but the real star of the film is the incomparable Margo Martindale, who steals every scene she’s in. I loved how she created a character that you both rooted for, and hoped the bear would decimate the second she stepped on screen… which may or may not inevitably lead to one of the most grisly (pun intended) scenes in the entire movie. Her park ranger costume is already inspiring my Halloween costume idea for next year, blood and all. Also, it is not lost on me that COCAINE BEAR gave us a reunion of THE AMERICANS with Martindale, Keri Russell, and Matthew Rhys (in a hilarious opening cameo that sets the tone for the film) all appearing in the film. Is this what Phillip, Elizabeth, and Claudia have been getting into all this time?
COCAINE BEAR is admittedly a B movie, but with fantastic direction and top tier talent. I imagine this is going to do really well at the box office, especially as word-of-mouth builds, and potentially has the makings to become a cult classic. Definitely try to see this in the theater for the atmosphere alone. And if you have a weak stomach, make sure to take the necessary precautions… mine was gasping and covering my eyes.
Make sure to stick around for two end credit scenes (but you don’t need to stick around to the very end).
My Review: B