- Ray Liotta, Keri Russell, Margo Martindale, Kristofer Hivju
- Written by
- Jimmy Warden
- Directed by
- Elizabeth Banks
- Run Time
- 1h 35min
- Release Date
- February 24th, 2023
Going camping or hiking can involve making a list of things you need and a mental list of things to avoid. On that list is usually things like snakes, poisonous plants, and of course wild animals, but it is safe bet that a bear high on cocaine probably wouldn’t make the list. Well back in 1985 in a national park in Tennessee, that would have been a good spot to have on your “ways you die in the forest” on your bingo card.
While smuggling a lot of cocaine across the country, a pilot runs into plane trouble, forcing him to throw the cargo out and abandon the plane. Things do not go well for that pilot, and the cocaine does land spread out across the forest and ready to be stumbled upon. Unfortunately for people currently in that park, a black bear finds a bag and discovers that life is better when you are ingesting a Brinks worth of the stuff. Meanwhile in the normal world, Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince) and Henry (Christian Convery) have decided to skip school today and head to a set of waterfalls inside cocaine bear park. They are not the only ones headed to that park as David (O’ Shea Jackson Jr) and Eddie (Alden Ehreneich ) or also heading there in order to re-acquire the afore mentioned cocaine for Eddie’s father Syd (Ray Liotta). If that isn’t enough for the party, you also have Sari (Keri Russell) who is out to find her daughter Dee Dee, as well as a couple of ambulance drivers, some hoodlum teen boys, and a park ranger and wild life expert in the mix, or in other words things this bear is going to try to eat. What follows is lots of blood, a mountain of coke that would make Tony Montana jealous, and a good time for us the audience.
The real story based on Cocaine Bear is a lot less entertaining, as the bear was found dead from his hard night of partying and later stuffed and displayed in a local mall. That of course would be no fun, so writer Jimmy Warden decided to put some people in the way as this bear just can’t get enough of the white powder. While there are plenty of characters, most of them serve as animal fodder, which lets face it, if you are seeing this movie, it is what you came for. The good news is you will not be disappointed as you get a good 20 minutes of very satisfying grisly action, with the highlight attack taking place at a Ranger’s station and ending with an ambulance chase. As for the rest of the nearly hour runtime there is not much in the way of plot or character development, but based what this film is going for, I wouldn’t exactly call that a negative.
There never should be a time when a movie like Cocaine Bear should take itself seriously, and trust me it doesn’t. Director Elizabeth Banks doesn’t shy away from graphic violence and gore, with the above mentioned ambulance scene which is the peak of the campiness and gory fun. I do feel that Banks and Warden did miss an opportunity to embrace the wild premise even more, but if you came for a bear on cocaine, it delivers with that. It also shows us a pretty good time that doesn’t ask you to care about anything and for me that is 90 minutes pretty well spent.