Cocaine Bear is exactly what one would imagine from its title, yet the carnage and shocking scenes yield an experience that soars beyond expectations.
Nothing sounds more ridiculous than the thought of a black bear taking pounds of cocaine and going on a rampage for more. But that’s the premise of Universal Pictures’ latest dark comedy action film, Cocaine Bear. Elizabeth Banks directed this hilarious story written by Jimmy Warden, which is inspired by the 1985 death of ex-narcotics officer Andrew Thornton. After ditching over 800 pounds of cocaine mid-flight, Thornton’s stash is scattered throughout the state of Georgia. And when a black bear gets a hold of it, its quick addiction proves to be incredibly dangerous for anyone who stands in its way of getting more.
Of course, Warden’s script takes a plethora of creative liberties in the way it unravels the almost unbelievable story of the famous “Cocaine Bear.” However, the film is stupendous in all its ridiculousness, providing fast-paced entertainment and laughs that will keep viewers glued to the screen. Specifically, the star-studded cast, including Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Margo Martindale, and Ray Liotta (in one of his final performances), offer a variety of personalities to make this wild ride enjoyable. And when their characters interact with the true star of the film, the cocaine bear, the sequences live up to all the hype.
Banks’ storytelling results in a ferociously amusing thriller that intermingles a group of criminals, tourists, detectives, and teenagers in unlikely ways. But that’s part of the fun that encompasses this brutally violent and witty story. She finds a great balance in spending time with the various characters and incorporating human elements while still staying true to the star of the story. Additionally, when it comes time for the interactions between the cocaine bear and the film’s main characters, there is plenty of gore and violence to be had that one can’t look away from but will surely bring the squirms.
Some of the best parts of Cocaine Bear is its willingness to go all in on the absurdity even when the humor doesn’t always work. If having a bear tear through pounds of cocaine wasn’t enough, Banks made sure to leave her audiences filled with stupor and laughs thanks to some of her directional choices. Scenes like having the bear hug a tree or dance with one of the characters are just small glimpses into her rambunctious and bold choices. They are incredibly fitting from the director and will leave audiences with plenty to laugh about long after the film’s over.
Riddled with silly scenes, dry humor, and a surplus of blood and violence in between, Cocaine Bear is a great time at the movies. It’s the kind of film to watch with a large group of friends in a packed theater to fully experience the insanity and enjoyable atmosphere. Banks’ feature boasts fun performances from the fantastic cast and great special effects, delivering a wild ride that caters to audiences of all types. Cocaine Bear is exactly what one would imagine from its title, yet the carnage, laughs, and shocking scenes yield an experience that soars beyond expectations.
Cocaine Bear releases in theaters February 24. The film is 95 minutes long and rated R for language, drug content, and bloody violence/gore.