Inspired by the 1985 true story of a drug runner’s plane crash, missing cocaine, and the black bear that ate it, this wild dark comedy finds an oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converging in a Georgia forest where a 500-pound apex predator has ingested a staggering amount of cocaine and gone on a coke-fueled rampage for more blow and blood.
The one person I felt sorry for more than anyone in Cocaine Bear is Ray Liotta. This misfire of a movie would be one of his last acting role. Liotta died last year in his sleep at the age of 67, while filming Dangerous Moves in the Dominican Republic. To be killed by a bear is not how this Good Fella would like to be remembered.
If anyone wondered what a bear would do if high on cocaine, Cocaine Bear definitely answers the question. The CGI WETA ursine responds part Cheech and Chong and part raging lunatic akin to violent psychotic Francis Begbie from Trainspotting.
Director Elizabeth Banks has wrangled enough B List actors to make this seem like an inside joke on Hollywood drug culture. Or they’re are always enough good unemployed actors desperate for a paycheck.
The movie is loosely based on a 1985 incident in which a Georgia Black Bear stumbles on kilos load of coke dropped from a plane by a smuggler. The bear died and the people lived. In the movie, true to it part horror roots, the bear lives and only the stupid characters dies.
Cocaine Bear is not over the top mean enough to be a parody of horror films. The actors here are just too good to thoroughly dumb down their characters for that. Banks, whose forte is sweet ensemble comedies like the Pitch Perfect films, can’t get that perfect timing needed for good comedy. There are a lot of hysterics but not a lot of funny.
The film only comes alive when the bear is on screen and she is entirely directed by the WETA effects crew. Cocaine Bear was simply meant to be a funny little short, the disposable ones designed for a brief viral life in The Funny or Die site. Stretched to feature length it is appropriately un”bear”able. The film s simply is not transgressive enough to be a genre shocker that bites the Hollywood hand that feeds it.
Cocaine Bear gets a 2.5 out of 5 or a B-.
- Keri Russell
- O’Shea Jackson Jr.
- Christian Convery
- Alden Ehrenreich
- Brooklynn Prince
- Isiah Whitlock Jr.
- Margo Martindale
- Ray Liotta
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
- February 24, 2023
- Running time
- 95 minutes
- United States
- $30–35 million