Cocaine Bear. What else needs to be said, you see a title like that and you already know what to expect. The story of a bear in Georgia that swallowed a bag of Cocaine has been immortalized on the silver screen through the direction of Award Winning Actress Elizabeth Banks (The Lego movie, The Hunger Games) and you know what, it’s hilarious.
With a premise as silly as a coked-out bear, it would be easy to try and sell a cheap comedy based on name only, yet Cocaine Bear has proper effort behind it. It’s completely ridiculous but most of its jokes are genuinely funny, and you can tell the actors are giving their all even in the goofiest of performances. If you’re looking for a movie that is just good, bloody fun, I’d give it a watch.
The Story of Pablo Eskobear
If you’ve been keeping up with the marketing of this movie, you may have heard that this is actually based on a true story. In 1985, in a small town in Georgia, drug smuggler Andrew Thornton II dropped 500 lb of cocaine into the nearby forest. Said cocaine was then ingested by a Black Bear who then proceeded to die of an overdose, although “overdose” may be a bit of an understatement.
Here is what the actual medical examiner had to say about the Bear during the autopsy:
“Its stomach was literally packed to the brim with cocaine. There isn’t a mammal on the planet that could survive that. Cerebral hemorrhaging, respiratory failure, hyperthermia, renal failure, heart failure, and stroke. You name it, that bear had it.”
His body was then stuffed and now takes pictures with tourists while wearing silly hats. The movie more or less takes this general premise and expands out the part between the bear ingesting the cocaine and dying to portray it going on a murderous rampage, and possibly looking for more cocaine.
Getting that Coke
From here the film follows different people around the wildlife park in their attempts to survive being mauled by Cocaine Bear. There are two little kids skipping school, a mom looking for her daughter, a cop trying to find the cocaine, two drug dealers trying to find the cocaine, and many more.
This is very much a campy horror comedy, with a heavy emphasis on comedy. Just imagine every cheesy Friday The 13th sequel if Jason was a little furrier and baked out his mind. Not every joke worked but the ones that were had people in my audience rolling in their seats. The only real issue I had was with the ending which felt a little underwhelming. With how bombastic the movie is, you’d think it was building up to something spectacularly mad but it kinda just fizzles out. It’s not that detrimental to the film but it does leave you wanting a little more.
The comedy is helped by Cocaine Bear themself being incredibly well animated, with a lot of vibrant expressions that make each of their interactions feel like those an actual bear could make with just enough uncanny-ness to buy that they’re also hoped up on drugs. Every time they get a whiff of the white stuff, it’s like watching Popeye eat spinach, the gates of hell open up, and pain is about the descend in the strangest of ways.
With all this talk of comedy, they certainly didn’t shirk on the gore either. People in this movie are doused in blood and their limbs go flying. Combined with the fast-paced comedy and it’s almost sensory overload. As messed up as it sounds, it made the film even more of a riot every time Cocaine Bear killed someone.
The Lines of Bodies
In terms of the human cast, the movie doesn’t really have a main human character. Instead, there’s an ensemble cast all of whom have their own sub-stories which are only tied together when they cross paths with the bear.
That being said, Director Elizabeth Banks was certainly able to bring together a big-name cast for the movie with people like Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Alden Ehrenreich. The most notable is that this is possibly the final performance of Ray Liotta (Goodfellas, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City) following his passing in 2022. I won’t say anyone put out a Shakespeare-level performance, in fact, a lot of these guys acted like cartoon characters, but they excelled at being cartoon characters. Each was able to seamlessly execute the various gags and quirks of their character feel and when it came time to meet the bear, they all felt like they behaved accordingly.
Despite how large the cast is, they’re also pretty easy to follow, which each character’s goals and personality clearly explained and explored. While I forgot the name of the zoologist played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and even forgot his job at first, he was easily one of my favorite characters. His scared outbursts at the Bear chasing him were an absolute blast to watch.
Don’t Ever Come Down
Cocaine Bear is a pretty straightforward movie. It’s 95 minutes of a bear completely off its rocker going on a killing spree and it pulls off that premise with flying colors.
I won’t say every joke in the film landed perfectly and the ending was a little underwhelming, but overall it was a wild fever dream that just got crazier. The animation and expression of Cocaine Bear gave them so much personality that made them a true joy to watch throughout the movie. Likewise, each character, while ultimately just there to add to the body count is well-acted and written, giving some of the funniest reactions to the insanity happening around them.
Cocaine Bear stands up there with Tucker and Dale vs Evil, and One Cut of The Dead as campy comedy-horror done right, a movie that understands what makes the dark humor of these films so entertaining without going overboard into being obnoxious. If you’re looking for a fun film to laugh with and can stomach a good dose of gore, seek out Cocaine Bear.
Cocaine Bear will premiere in Malaysian cinemas on the 23rd of February.
Check This Out Next
- Campy yet well written
- Jokes are genuinely funny
- Cocaine Bear is very well animated
- The finale felt a little out of place