Reel Thoughts: ‘Cocaine Bear’ is a clawesome time


Illustration by Selena Kuznikov

‘Cocaine Bear’ is a non-stop thrill ride from the very beginning as the bear-themed antics continually escalate.

Danny O’Grady, Reporter

This piece contains spoilers. 

Bears can be scary, but just imagine how much scarier a bear on cocaine would be. Elizabeth Banks sought to answer the question by directing the recently released movie “Cocaine Bear.”

Clearly, the most notable aspect of “Cocaine Bear” is its one-of-a-kind premise. In an industry jaded by an excess of over-the-top superhero movies and gory slasher films, “Cocaine Bear” stands alone as a beacon of creativity in a risk-averse landscape. It also delivers exactly what you would expect from a movie titled “Cocaine Bear” — a comedic film about a bear going on a drug-fueled rampage. As long as you don’t go into the theater expecting an Oscar winner, the movie will prove a delight. 

“Cocaine Bear” proudly advertises that it is based on a true story. While technically correct, that’s a rather big stretch from the truth. The real bear died shortly after consuming what’s rumored to have been around 70 pounds of cocaine, worth about $5 million street value. The movie is an alternative history of what could have happened had the bear lived.

As one would expect, the movie is incredibly funny and handles its humor not relying solely on cheap drug jokes. The comedy is clever and well thought out — for the most part — and supports the tone of the film. The jokes are also paced well to keep the audience laughing without feeling like it’s trying to capitalize on every line of dialogue with a joke. The soundtrack of the movie also contributes to the humor as it accentuates the goofiness occurring on screen.

Central to this humor is the loveable cast of characters that the movie boasts. A lot of the jokes rely on the antics of the odd characters caught up in the drama in Chattahoochee National Forest. While every character is entertaining, Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) the quirky old detective and Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) the depressed son of a drug kingpin, are standouts. Ray Liotta, who plays Syd, also makes one of his last appearances as an actor in the film, as he sadly passed away last year.

Cocaine Bear herself turns out to be one of the most memorable characters of the movie. She is constantly present as a terrifying threat but does not overstay her welcome to the point of being overused. Yet surprisingly, the bear turns out to be a sort of tragic figure as well, who in the end, manages to protect her cubs.

The main drawback that keeps “Cocaine Bear” from truly being a masterpiece is that it revels too much in its gore. Gross imagery of blood and death is to be expected for a comedy thriller starring a murderous bear, but it is taken too far at times. It’s not a dealbreaker and isn’t too widespread, but the overabundance of carnage certainly undercuts some jokes and emotional moments.

Computer-generated imagery is used in abundance throughout the film to portray the bear, and for the most part, it holds up well. Yet, there are a few moments where it is evident that the bear is animated which break immersion momentarily.

The greatest strength of “Cocaine Bear” lies in its unique premise, but that is certainly not all it has going for it. A memorable cast of characters and clever jokes make the movie an excellent time for someone looking for a good laugh, but its overabundance of gore does hold it back in some aspects. “Cocaine Bear” is absolutely worth a watch at least once to experience true innovation in Hollywood.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @DannyMOGrady04 

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