It’s been an interesting year for comedic horror films. M3GAN was released in January to a solid box office and fairly positive reviews. Now we have Cocaine Bear from director Elizabeth Banks, and it’s just as crazy as the title makes it out to be. It’s not quite as evenly balanced as M3GAN, but it’s still worth your time. Let’s take a closer look at our review of Cocaine Bear.
Cocaine Bear is actually based on a true story, although quite a few liberties have been taken to increase the entertainment value of the film. The original story saw drug smugglers drop 40 plastic containers of cocaine into the Kentucky wilderness back in 1985. A few months later, a black bear was found dead with 75 pounds of cocaine in its stomach. However, no deaths were reported.
The movie takes the original drug smuggler story and fills in the blanks of what happened between the cocaine being dropped and the bear overdosing. It adds single mom, Sari (Keri Russell), her daughter Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince), and Dee Dee’s friend, Henry (Christian Convery). The main drug lord is Syd (Ray Liotta), who sends his son Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) and one goon, Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) to find the drugs in the wilderness.
With a brisk runtime of just over 90 minutes, Cocaine Bear gets to the point quickly and rarely looks back. There are some outrageously funny moments, gruesome violence, and lots of human incompetence alongside frequent bear attacks. While on paper this all sounds great, in practice it turns into a somewhat uneven film.
There are a fair amount of laughs to be had, and some of the gore is even humorous, but there’s a lot going on in this film. It’s almost too much, with the drug plot line, the bear as the main antagonist, lost children, and a lovestruck park ranger. The best moments of the film are when things are kept simple, but there aren’t enough of those instances to keep the film steady.
When Cocaine Bear is at its best, it truly shines as an over-the-top comedic horror film. But then there’s a completely unnecessary plot line with three hooligans, a police detective, and his newly adopted dog. And by the end of the film, things start to get serious, which is a complete change of pace from the shenanigans of the rest of the movie.
Cocaine Bear is one of those movies that’s great to watch at home on Peacock or VOD. It can be fun in a theater, but you need to go with a bunch of friends and be ready to just get silly. There isn’t a lot of substance to the film (no pun intended), but it can be fun with a rowdy crowd, and a great group of friends.
About Cocaine Bear
Synopsis: An oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists, and teens converge on a Georgia forest where a huge black bear goes on a murderous rampage after unintentionally ingesting cocaine.
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Writer: Jimmy Warden
Stars: Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Runtime: 1 Hour, 35 Minutes
Releases: February 24, 2023
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.