Unwavering Commitment: Our Review of ‘Cocaine Bear’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - February 23, 2023
Unwavering Commitment: Our Review of ‘Cocaine Bear’

There’s something to be said for having commitment to the bit…

In theatres tomorrow, Cocaine Bear shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does but this critic can’t help but be in awe of this filmmaking team that wasn’t afraid to let this concept hang all the way out on the screen in ways that will surprise even the most seasoned of filmgoer.

Inspired by the 1985 true story of a drug runner’s plane crash, missing cocaine, and the black bear that ate it, this wild dark comedy finds an oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converging in a Georgia forest where a 500- pound apex predator has ingested a staggering amount of cocaine and gone on a coke-fueled rampage for more blow … and blood.

In the spirit of full disclosure, we have to admit that as a movie; Cocaine Bear is about as uneven as it gets.  That being said it’s a credit to director Elizabeth Banks and her entire filmmaking team for making this the gloriously R rated, unhinged mess that it could only ever be still work as well as it actually does.

With this now being the 3rd feature under the belt of Elizabeth Banks as a director, she’s hit her stride here because she manages to hit the beats of two different genres of film in perfect rhythm throughout the narrative and when our drug fueled 500 pound apex predator ultimately starts to become the heroine of the story, then you know you’ve stumbled on to something unlike anything you’ve really seen before

It’s dark, yet dead pan funny.  It’s hilarious, yet equal parts horrific from one minute to the next and it bounces between both moods pretty effortlessly at a rapid fire pace.  On paper there’s no way that should actually work, but we’ll be damned because it actually does while also allowing itself to have some genuine heart all the way through.

The script from screenwriter Jimmy Warden doesn’t allow the audience to having seemingly easy transitions from one emotion to the other….but it’s not supposed to.  This movie wants to jar us into a reality that is just unequivocally insane as well as ridiculous and thankfully it doesn’t take long for us to get there thanks to a quietly loaded ensemble cast.

There isn’t a soul in this ensemble cast that isn’t in perfect tune with the material as they all plays their roles in the narrative to the absolute hilt.   It’s hard to say whose the “star” of this picture to be honest but with the likes of Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson Jr, Isaiah Whitlock, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Scott Seiss, Margot Martindale, Matthew Rhys and the late, great Ray Liotta all burning themselves into our brains it’s hard to care.  This was an ensemble of the truest sense of the word and they all brought their A-Game to give audiences something that actually strains against any kind of logic explanation, especially when you know that you kind of loved it all from minute one.

To put it quite simply, Cocaine Bear doesn’t need you to like it or even it love it, but what it forces us all to do is acknowledge the simple reality that we now live in a world with Cocaine Bear. We can either refuse to accept it, or embrace the beautiful insanity that has been born of it.

  • Release Date: 2/24/2023
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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