Cocaine Bear Review

Films fueled by cocaine make for suspense, danger, and all kinds of character reactions, like Al Pacino as Tony Montana in Scarface (1983), or Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello in The Departed (2006). But when it’s a wild bear using the cocaine, as in Cocaine Bear, expect great loads of laughter and comical violence.

Cocaine Bear is based on true events from 1985, when a plane accidentally drops a large load of cocaine into a forest. Soon a 500-pound bear, the apex predator in the forest, begins ingesting the cocaine, and the craziness begins. The film features two teens, Dee Dee and Henry (played by Brooklynn Prince and Christian Henry), and Dee Dee’s mother, Sari (played by Keri Russell). There are also drug dealers Eddie, Daveed, and Syd (played by Alden Ehrenreich, O’shea Jackson Jr, and Ray Liotta). Finally, there is Ranger Liz (played by Margo Martindale). There are many other characters, but these serve the big importance in the film. All of the characters find themselves in a situation where they are in the forest with the cocaine-crazed bear.

While Eddie, Daveed, and Syd are trying to find their missing drugs, Dee Dee and Henry are just escaping to nature in the forest. Sari goes to look for Dee Dee, and Ranger Liz is just doing what she can to try to keep the forest safe. But of course there is no “safe” with a huge bear who is high on cocaine on the loose, because as everyone ventures into the forest, the bear already has killer instincts and the cocaine greatly increases those instincts.

With cocaine surrounding the bear, anyone who gets near becomes the bear’s next meal. But I will say that when the suspenseful moments happen, Cocaine Bear is an audacious, joyful and crazy time with everyone trying to find safety before the bear gets a chance to eat them.

Cocaine can of course cause severe reactions in humans. But a bear has a different type of brain than humans, and a bear ingesting cocaine can have severe consequences. My sense is that much of this film may not follow the actual events, but there’s no question that a bear on cocaine is bonkers.

Cocaine Bear will make viewers wonder who will have the most tragic, yet hysterical death. I know the subject of death is not funny, but this film knows how to make nature vs. humans a hilarious spectacle. Director Elizabeth Banks takes Cocaine Bear to a level of cleverness that is unsurpassed among films in the genre. A film about a bear in love with cocaine had me thinking of some potential taglines for the film, like “The bear needs rehab.”

So who will survive the mayhem? The drug dealers? The kids? Will the dealers get their drugs back? Does anyone know how to handle a bear hyped up on cocaine? Probably not. But even so, Cocaine Bear had me laughing until my lungs hurt. Three stars for Cocaine Bear.

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