‘Cocaine Bear’ movie review: An enjoyably gory, funny creature feature
Creature features are always fun and Cocaine Bear is one more jolly gemstone in that already overcrowded diadem of gore. Based on true events with a few creative liberties, Cocaine Bear begins with a former narcotics agent, Andrew C. Thornton II (Matthew Rhys), dumping bags of cocaine on his smuggling run from his overloaded plane. He dies when his parachute malfunctions.
The bags of cocaine fall in and around the Chattahoochee National Park. Sid (Ray Liotta), who was the intended recipient of the said drugs from the cruel Colombians, instructs his son, Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich), and enforcer, Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), to retrieve the cocaine.
Cocaine Bear (2023)
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Starring: Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Christian Convery, Alden Ehrenreich, Brooklynn Prince, Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Plot: A bear ingests copious amounts of cocaine and runs riot in the Chattahoochee National Park
Duration: 95 minutes
Sari (Keri Russell), a nurse, had promised her daughter, Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince), they could go to the park but cancels to spend a weekend with the new man in her life. In a fit of pique, Dee Dee cuts school and decides to head to the park with her best friend, Henry (Christian Convery). The local forest ranger, Liz (Margo Martindale), who has a crush on Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), the inspector, sees her day in the woods ruined by Sari, who comes looking for Dee Dee.
Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), a police detective, overhears Daveed and Eddie and heads to the park to find the cocaine and get the bad guys. There are innocent hikers, Olaf (Kristofer Hivju) and Elsa (Hannah Hoekstra), paramedics Beth (Kahyun Kim) and Tom (Scott Seiss), and Reba (Ayoola Smart), Bob’s co-worker who promises to dog sit Bob’s newly-adopted dog, Rosette. And in the midst of all these people is “an apex predator high on cocaine”.
While a bear did die of a cocaine overdose in the December of 1985, it did not go on a killing spree as shown in the film. At 95 minutes, Cocaine Bear is a lean, action-packed ride through eye-poppingly beautiful vistas, which contrast happily with all the gore and dismembered body parts. The bear is a miracle of CGI and it looks rather sweet as it scrambles up trees and circles sundry gazebos to get to the duffle bags full of cocaine.
There are funny lines mainly from Stache (Aaron Holliday), a teen who has the misfortune of getting mixed up with Daveed and Eddie. He advices Eddie who is mourning his wife who he lost to cancer on how to connect with his son, Gabe.
While Cocaine Bear can be looked at as a metaphor (for that matter anything is a metaphor for something) for conspicuous consumption or the eternal man-versus-nature debate, it can also be enjoyed as a silly thriller where humans can be counted on to do and say ridiculous things and are slapped, swiped or ripped apart, and also shot for their pains.
Cocaine Bear is currently running in theatres