"Cocaine Bear" Film Review

Cocaine Bear (2023) - IMDb

"Cocaine Bear" Film Review

Rating: 4/5

By: Nathaniel Simpson

    There have been movies of psychopaths in masks going around and killing innocent victims; there have been movies of larger than life sharks and alligators ripping people apart limb by limb; there have been movies of ghosts or other paranormal activity forcing humans to kill themselves. But, there simply hasn't been a movie about a bear addicted to cocaine going around and killing people. I think that is the main source of excitement for Elizabeth Banks' bonkers, yet tons of fun film "Cocaine Bear". It is perhaps the most bizarre big-budget thriller/horror movie I have seen in a long time, and it honestly works in many ways. For what it possibly lacks in great acting or a strong and cohesive story, it makes up for it with tons of fun horror elements and lovable characters. 

    The opening scene in this picture shows a crazed man aboard a small plane, throwing duffel bags out before attempting to skydive out to the bag. However, the man accidentally hits his head on the plane, knocking him out and therefore killing him when he collided with the Earth. The bags however, which contained a copious amount of cocaine, was found and ingested by a huge black bear in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. 

    However, this man wasn't any normal cocaine slinger, he was supposed to bring the cocaine to his boss, Syd (Ray Liotta, in his last role before his untimely death), and Syd isn't very happy that his product is now strewn about a national park. Because of this, he sends his worker Daveed (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) and his son Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich), who is distraught after his wife's passing, to find the cocaine in the forest. However, they certainly aren't expecting to encounter a giant 500-pound bear hopped up on the white powdery drug. 

    In a sense, this is perhaps the main story of the entire film. It's not very complex or complicated, and it sort of seems very straight-forward. The writer of this film practically introduced this simple plot to get the viewer where they needed to watch the bear attack people throughout the movie. However, the characters are crafted so strongly that the story doesn't even really matter. In fact, one of the people I went and saw this film with turned to me halfway through and asked, "What the hell is the point of this movie really?" In a way, I sort of agree with him. There is no real point or story to this film, yet at the same time it adds the perfect amount for the film to progress. 

    Like I mentioned, the characters are crafted so perfectly that they alone can entertain the audience for the entire hour and a half runtime. Jackson and Ehrenreich are impeccable together on the screen, and they deliver such strong and hilarious performances. At the same time, we are introduced to a number of other characters as well; Sari (Keri Russell), who is looking for her daughter Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince), who has ran away with her friend Henry (Christian Convery) after a disagreement with her mother; park ranger Liz (Margo Martindale), who is trying to impress the park's inspector named Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson); three hoodlum teenagers who want to cause trouble (Aaron Holliday, J.B. Moore, Leo Hanna); and a police chief (Isaiah Whitlock), who is obsessed with his new dog he adopted. All of these characters are so much fun on the screen and each actor in this film gives a strong performance throughout the entire runtime. Besides Syd, who is sort of the main antagonist in this film, it's hard for the viewer to not fall in love with each and every one of these characters, and to feel saddened every time one of them dies at the hands of the giant black bear. 

    Even though the story is very simple, there are times where it seems like the screenwriter is leaning too far into the character study and world-building. The first thirty minutes or so are spent introducing all of the characters, and it moved at a very rapid pace. I didn't feel lost or confused during this, but it is extremely easy to feel whiplashed by all the introductions at once. From there, the pacing sort of gets on track and delivers the movie everyone here came to see. 

    Now, let's move on to the bear and the kills that take place here. At first, the kills happen off camera with minimal blood or gore. However, when you start to move into the film, the kills get progressively more graphic, with a man's hand being totally bent backwards, a man shot in the head accidentally and surprisingly, a woman's face being stripped off as she is dragged down a street, etc. There were some instances where the filmmakers tried to get a rise out of the audience, and many viewers gasped or groaned every time a gruesome death occurred on screen. This movie practically delivered everything I could possibly want for this film, and I'm all here for it. 

    This movie did everything I wanted it to do. The cocaine bear was over-the-top and crazed, which perfectly fits in the tone and vibe of this movie. From the first scene to the last, I, as the viewer, was invested into the crazy and hilarious world the filmmakers set up. The only complaint I had was that it ended, as I found myself wanting more and more of this.