Let’s just get this out of the way: if you look at the Cocaine Bear trailer and roll your eyes, this movie isn’t for you. There are definitely going to be plenty of people who call this movie stupid, over the top, and basically ridiculous. Cocaine Bear is all of those things. And that is exactly why it works.
Promoted as “based on a true story,” you should probably walk in knowing that the true story ends about 15 minutes into the film. Yes, there was a drug smuggler named Andrew C. Thornton II. And yes, he dropped cocaine into the Chattahoochee National Forest. And yes a bear ate some of that cocaine. From that point on, the movie is pure, absurdist fiction. Sorry if that ruins it a bit for you.
The plot, once we get the cocaine into the bear, takes off in a few different directions. There’s a roving band of teenage hooligans who terrorize visitors to the park, a park ranger who’s trying to impress her crush, a mom trying to find her missing daughter, and some associates of the drug smuggler trying to recover the missing drugs. All of these things, of course, are disrupted by a cocaine-crazed bear who has no problem at all ripping people limb from limb.
What works in Cocaine Bear?
If there was even the slightest attempt to take itself seriously, Cocaine Bear would fall flat on its face. Luckily this film knows exactly what it is. Elizabeth Banks directs the film as if she wanted to go have some gory fun in the woods with a few friends. There are no attempts to teach any lessons. There is no mission at all beyond pure entertainment. It also clocks in at a breezy 95-minute runtime, meaning you’re amused without the movie overstaying its welcome.
What doesn’t work in Cocaine Bear?
Is the story strong? Not particularly. Is the CGI bear any good? Not at all. Will this will any acting awards? Absolutely not. But here’s the thing: it does not matter. Yes, it’s a silly story and a bear that looks fairly fake, but it’s still a lot of fun. If you are offended by language, violence, and drug use? This isn’t for you. If you want some silly and gory mind candy? Buy your ticket immediately.
Cocaine Bear is in theaters now.
About Cocaine Bear
Rating: R (Language Throughout|Drug Content|Bloody Violence and Gore)
Runtime: 1h 35m
After a 500-pound black bear consumes a significant amount of cocaine and embarks on a drug-fueled rampage, an eccentric gathering of cops, criminals, tourists, and teenagers assemble in a Georgia forest.