“Cocaine Bear” – silly, gory, and fun

“It’s like cocaine Christmas!”

Story: In 1985, a drug smuggler decided to get rid of duffle bags filled with cocaine by pitching ’em out of his in-the-air plane (hey, gotta lighten the load somehow, right?) Said cocaine ended up falling into Chatta hoochee-Oconee National Forest…and apparently into the mouth of a bear with an addictive personality. This is her story. *dun dun*

Genre I’d put it in: Irreverent Animal Addiction… Crime Horror Thing?
Release Date: 2023
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based on a true story. Very, VERY loosely based on a true story.

Gotta say: Bear is exactly what it says on the tin, but a shit-ton gorier than you might expect. Which is kinda freaking awesome. Now bear with me (WHAT) – while I’m had a good time watching this, you do need to be in the right kind of goofy mood to watch this pitch-black dark comedy. Anyone who walks into the multiplex to watch this and leaves the theater saying “that was stupid”? Honey. Sweetie. Sugar lamb. The name of the film is COCAINE BEAR. If you expected high art, you are obviously new to the world of cinema. Welcome. The popcorn is delicious here.

A lot of people will focus on the fact that this is one of Ray Liotta’s final films before he passed away last year. And yes, that’s heartbreaking. But he’s 110% into the role of drug kingpin Syd White. (And who knew he could rock a shoulder-length shag? Not I. But hello Miss 80s Shag!) It’s not Liotta’s final role – there are three more films in post-production coming our way – but damn if this isn’t a tribute to how much he truly enjoyed performing. Then again, a cast filled with people game for a good time makes it easy to really dig in; Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Margo Martindale, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Isaiah Whitlock Jr., and Kristofer Hivju all understand what they need to bring to the table, and a big part of what makes Bear…bearable (FINE I’LL STOP) are their joyful performances. Special shout-out to Russell’s offscreen love Matthew Rhys, as the absolutely stoned out of his mind drug runner Andrew C. Thornton II. Rhys takes a role so small it’s basically a cameo, and turns it into comedy gold.

Bear would be a great pairing with films like Tucker and Dale vs Evil, The Final Girls, or Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Basically any horror comedy that wears its irreverence on it’s sleeve. Because Bear knows it’s goofy as hell, and leans all the way in. I don’t know if it’s glorious – I’m still processing – but it is a damn good time. And a rather gory one as well. Do not go into this one thinking it’s all fun and stoned bears. This gal is gonna bring her bear necessities (CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP) in glorious shades of scarlet. You’ll see veritable rivers of red, body parts flung around, decapitations, and many, many other ways humans can get bodied. Granted, like Tucker, it’s so over-the-top it’ll become impossible to take seriously after a bit, but for the lily-livered among you? You’ve been warned. Director Elizabeth Banks seems to take a kind of delighted glee in delivering such hardcore splatter, and I’d bet her extremely heavy hand served as part of the comedy, ala Dead Alive.

Now, is Bear as good as Tucker? Nah. But understand that Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is one of my all-time favorite films. So Bear had a hard road to climb to start with, with that comparison. And while Bear is a whole lot of fun if you’re in the mood, it is in fact a film you have to be in the mood for…did I lose you? Okay. Films like the ones I mentioned in the paragraph above do something beautiful; they can pull you in no matter what mood you’re in. But Bear, as with films like the Banks-starring Wet Hot American Summer, needs you to already be in a “I want to sink into some stupid-crazy” kinda vibe. Otherwise, you might think it’s kinda funny, but will notice how the subplots are weakly stitched together, or that lots of the kills are focused on folks we bear-ly know (I NEED AN INVERVENTION), and maybe that the focus of the story is all over the place. So yeah, go in set for fun, and your expectations should be met…

But if Bear doesn’t hit for you, or wasn’t your cuppa even though you thought it might be? Fair. See above. Me? I had a good ol’ time. Sure, I saw Bear for free, thanks to a press invite. But for me, I’d have paid. I had that much fun. Though next time? I’ll go in with more friends, and with a solid beer and/or candy buzz going on, for maximum adult(ish) enjoyment. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to The Bear Pun Rehabilitation Clinic. I bear the responsibility for my actions, and will seek help accordingly.

For my animal-loving folks who want to know if what really happened to “Pablo Escobear” happens in this movie? Nope! Yay! (Yeah spoilers, whatever. I’d want to know, so now you do.) Oh, and for folks who are interested? Song list!

#Protip: Banks had nothing but wonderful things to say about the late, great, Ray Liotta – “He was such a gift to me. He came to set every day excited, committed, professional. He gave a beautiful speech when he wrapped to our crew. He brought tears to people’s eyes. He was just a delight.”

About Denise

Professional nerd. Lover of licorice.
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