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Cocaine Bear is a 2023 black comedy horror film directed by Elizabeth Banks, written by Jimmy Warden, produced by Lord Miller Productions, Brownstone Productions, and Jurassic Party Productions, and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is inspired by the true story of the "Cocaine Bear". It stars Keri Russell and Alden Ehrenreich.
"A bear did cocaine!" - Eddie
When a drug trafficker drops seventy-five pounds of cocaine over a forest, the drug dealers that own the cocaine go into the forest to search for it...only to find that a bear got to it before they did. What was supposed to be a simple drug pickup turns into a nightmare when the cocaine bear goes crazy.
I haven't seen it, but Cocaine Bear seems like this generation's Snakes on a Plane. And I don't know if this is possible, but I think Cocaine Bear might be dumber.
To start with the good, Cocaine Bear embraces that aspect. It's stupid. If there were movie IQs, this film would have, like, a ten. That's the charm of the movie. It doesn't take itself seriously at all. It's a comedy movie that also tries to be a cheesy horror film. This makes for a watchable film, because it's not trying to be good. It's a total B-movie, and I can appreciate that.
The movie also has its fair share of funny moments. Alden Ehrenreich, who played Han Solo in Solo, has some pretty good comedic timing. There are plenty of scenes involving him that made me laugh. The way that some of the kills are done are really funny. The gore is so over-the-top that its played for comedy, which worked for me. There's a specific scene involving an ambulance that is ridiculously bloody, but it's really funny and gross. If you aren't squeamish and like good kills, you'll like that scene.
I've also always liked the man vs. nature subgenre of horror. You know, Jaws and Jurassic Park and movies like that. I'm not comparing Cocaine Bear to Jaws and Jurassic Park, but I think it's always fun to see humans battling some kind of feral force of nature, whether that's a man-eating shark, dinosaurs, giant spiders, or bears that are high on cocaine.
But this movie is not very good.
There's a happy medium that these B-movies can reach. They can be dumb. They can be cheesy. But they can't go too far. I think the MonsterVerse is a good example of that. Is Godzilla vs. Kong a good movie? No! Of course not. But it embraces the stupidity and just ends up being dumb fun. It doesn't go too far. Cocaine Bear gets so ridiculous and over-the-top that I just couldn't be fully entertained. It's just too stupid of a premise and too stupid of a story. Sorry! That's just how I feel.
The film doesn't have the first clue about how to balance characters and plot. It's an ensemble cast, so you have multiple storylines converging into this forest. Keri Russell has her own plot. Alden Ehrenreich has his own plot. There's a detective. There's a park ranger. And none of these various plot lines are balanced well. We will spend five minutes with Russell and then cut to Ehrenreich and spend twenty-five minutes with him. It makes the movie so uneven and just a little worse than it already was.
The bear in this movie is also just...insane. Since the bear is supposed to be high on cocaine, they had to use CGI. But it looks atrocious. Whenever the camera is relatively close to the bear, it looks like someone photoshopped it into the movie. I get it adds to the B-movie charm, but c'mon guys. It's just painful at this point.
Speaking of CGI...half the blood and guts in this movie was digital. If you're going to do this movie and make it as dumb and effortless as it is, why not at least make the kills practical? But no. There are scenes where people's heads are blown off that are CGI. There are body parts torn off that are CGI. Even the worst of bad horror movies usually have good, practical kills, but Cocaine Bear can't even do that.
And don't get me started on the logic of this film. I understand you're supposed to suspend disbelief for movies. I suspended disbelief for the bear ingesting this much cocaine and surviving. But there are certain things that happen in this movie that just make absolutely no sense. The bear has a lair where it kidnaps people and keeps them. That's just one example of many. I can't stand how idiotic this film is.
I can nitpick everything else, but there isn't much to go into depth with, so I'm just going to quickly go over the other negatives. With the exception of Ehrenreich and Russell, the acting isn't that good. The dialogue is horrific. They try to build out some of these characters and give them arcs or personalities, but that doesn't work. I love Elizabeth Banks. I think she's a great actress, but it doesn't really seem like she knows how to direct. Her previous directing credits consist of Pitch Perfect 2 and Charlie's Angels, so that's no surprise that she isn't the best behind the camera. This movie can be fun at times, but it's so dumb and so bad.
Final Thoughts and Score
Cocaine Bear is as dumb (if not dumber) than the title and the trailer led on. Some will like that. I do not.
This is Sour. Age range is 13+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
Fun Factor: 6/10
Directed by Elizabeth Banks
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, frightening images, drug use, thematic elements
Released on February 24, 2023
1 hour and 35 minutes
Keri Russell as Sari
Alden Ehrenreich as Eddie
O'Shea Jackson Jr. as Daveed
Christian Convery as Henry
Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Detective Bob
Brooklynn Prince as Dee Dee
Margo Martindale as Ranger Liz
Ray Liotta as Syd
Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Peter
Aaron Holliday as Stache
Kristofer Hivju as Olaf
Hannah Hoekstra as Elsa
Ayoola Smart as Officer Reba
Kahyun Kim as Beth
Scott Seiss as Tom
Matthew Rhys as Andrew C. Thorton II