Cocaine Bear is a wild ride packed with hilarious moments and characters, but what kind of movie is it? And is it worth watching? Try your best to avoid trailers if you can. Despite it being a lot of fun, This movie can be a bit predictable, which means seeing the trailer might just spoil too much of the film for yourself. Cocaine Bear follows a menagerie of cops, criminals, tourists, and teenagers who find themselves in the woods at the same time as a bear embarking on a murderous rampage fuelled by cocaine. Inspired by true events, the film is directed by Elizabeth Banks and was written by Jimmy Warden. Cocaine Bear currently sits at a 80% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Although this movie is a lot of gorey fun, it throws its net quite wide with respect to plotlines and story. There’s a lot that happens in these ninety-five minutes and this journey can at some points feel excessive in its explorations. The film surrounds the idea of this lost cocaine that both drug dealers and the police force are looking for. This is what brings them across the bear. But there’s another story that follows two young kids who happen to also be in the forest at the same time as the bear’s rampage, whilst their mother searches for them. While the bear terrorizing cops and robbers is fun and exciting, witnessing the kids’ journey strikes us more with a nervous dose of suspense. Will they come across the bear? Will it find them? What will happen if it does?
It can sometimes feel like there are a few too many characters existing in this movie. Banks seems to have been aiming to format this movie similarly to Avengers: Infinity War, where we hop back and forth between all these different people in different situations under different circumstances tackling different interpersonal dramas and having them all connect by the end. This can leave the audience somewhat disoriented and feels as though the pacing is all over the place. Things definitely escalate along like a typical B-level thriller but the characters are all so different there’s bound to be some you love and some you hate, meaning that when the movie is following the ones you hate, you’re just itching for the story to get back to the ones you love.
There are a lot of characters running loose in this park, meaning plenty of victims for ‘Cokey’ (as Banks calls the bear). The movie boasts a very impressive ensemble cast, including the late superstar Ray Liotta. Also starring in the film are Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Margo Martindale and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. The film spends more time than one would anticipate building its world before all the characters enter the park and the real madness starts. If you are the type of viewer who likes to be thrown into the action straight away, this movie isn’t formatted that way. It doesn’t try to be anything more than it is, which reminded me a lot of movies like RRR that understand their identity and revel in their own boldness, even if it can be a little bit ridiculous. This makes it a fun watch. Don’t go in expecting a high-brow masterpiece that’ll sweep the academy awards. This is a movie to go watch with some friends and have a good laugh. The tone reminds me a lot of Violent Night, where we get splashes of action, comedy, gore and thrills. The gore is definitely the most unexpected part of the film. A film following a bear going on a murderous rampage would have most of us assume there’ll definitely be some bloody scenes but this film just goes beyond. The gore can be fun at times and it never feels gratuitous or unnecessary but, like in Violent Night, it plays more as a comedy device than one of horror or fear. This movie definitely appeals to multiple tastes since its blend of comedy, action, thriller, and horror doesn’t trap it in a single box. It doesn’t lean so much into tones of horror (unless you’re afraid of bears… then this movie will definitely be horrifying for you!) It plays like a fun late night movie and that’s how it will be best consumed, whether you screen it in theaters or at home
There are some great action sequences littered throughout the movie that were well choreographed and visually impressive, even without the bear being on screen. The bear itself looked so realistic. We all know the level of CGI can make or break a film like this, but it was so well done that you’ll find yourself forgetting it is a CGI bear. Cokey is definitely the star of the film; if there’s any character you’ll resonate with… it’s this man-eating bear. When we watch the other characters on screen dealing with their own unique dramas, we’re just waiting for Cokey to show up again. Cocaine Bear is funny, super gorey, presents many different types of characters and is a lot of fun but slow at parts. Some audiences might assume it’s more thrilling than it is. It’s hard to think of it as a horror movie due to the slapstick comedy so prevalent in the script. It’s mostly predictable and unoriginal but does have the potential to be a cult classic that spawns other films like it (Cocaine Shark, Cocaine Crocodile, Cocaine Llama?) There’s not much depth to the film but it’s self-aware, despite its meandering plotlines. Overall, Cocaine Bear is a fun watch and a bloody good time!
Watch the trailer for Cocaine Bear below
Universal Pictures releases Cocaine Bear in theatres everywhere Feb 24, 2023
Review by Guest Blogger Jurgen Sosa