Movies & TV / Reviews

Cocaine Bear Review

February 24, 2023 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Cocaine Bear Movie Still Image Credit: Universal Studios
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Cocaine Bear Review  

Directed By: Elizabeth Banks
Written By: Jimmy Warden
Runtime: 95 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated R for bloody violence and gore, drug content, and language throughout

Keri Russell – Sari
Alden Ehrenreich – Eddie White
O’Shea Jackson Jr. – Daveed
Brooklynn Prince – Dee Dee
Christian Convery – Henry
Isiah Whitlock Jr. – Bob
Ray Liotta – Sydney White
Margo Martindale – Ranger Liz
Jesse Tyler Ferguson – Peter
Kristofer Hivju – Olaf
Hannah Hoekstra – Elsa
Ayoola Smart – Officer Reba

When a goofball drug dealer drops his haul in the Georgian mountains, a local brown bear gets a taste of the powdery prize. The hapless brown bear has sampled the naughty salt and becomes hopelessly addicted. Now that the bear has had a taste of the booger sugar, it will stop at nothing to get its next bump. The only outcome is all hell breaking loose in a Georgia state park and all the hapless bystanders in the new horror-comedy, Cocaine Bear.

The bystanders who get wrapped up in the drug-addicted ursid plot include a group of kids, Dee Dee (Prince) and Henry (Convery), who stumble onto some of the missing coke bricks; Dee Dee’s concerned nurse mother, Sari (Russell); the chainsmoking park ranger Liz (Martindale); and the two drug dealer gangsters, Eddie (Ehrenreich) and Daveed (Jackson). Eddie and Daveed seek to salvage what remains of the yeyo on the orders of their boss, drug kingpin Sydney White (Liotta), who also happens to be Eddie’s father. Eddie is despondent over the recent loss of his wife and is looking for a way out of the business. Meanwhile, Detective Bob (Whitlock) travels to the area to find evidence to lock up White.

With a title so blunt as Cocaine Bear, the film certainly raises a lot of expectations. Audiences need not worry if they want to see a wild ursine animal become a habitual coke fiend. After ingesting some of the cocaine, the bear wants nothing more than to find her next fix. Banks’ new movie is wild, goofy fun. Also, a talented cast supports Cocaine Bear, who are clearly in the mood to have fun and sell the material.

The kids at the center of this bruin breakdown, Dee Dee and Henry, handle their roles well and have some of the best one-liners in the film. Keri Russell is always reliable talent in whatever role she finds herself in. It’s great to see her sharing the screen once again with Margo Martindale, who has some of the film’s most riotous moments. As the final film of actor Ray Liotta, it was nice to see the actor showcasing his unique charisma as a 1980s drug gangster.

While the film wears its horror and creature feature influences on its sleeve, Cocaine Bear leans more to the comedy side of horror-comedy for its midnight movie style. If anything, the movie could have used a bit more horror and suspense, such as when the bear makes an appearance stalking some of the civilians who are searching in the woods.

Jimmy Warden’s script has an amusing self-awareness. The opening prologue quotes what purports to be Wikipedia “facts.” The movie knows the premise is absurd and has fun with that. It’s not going for scientific or factual accuracy. That’s why the bear exhibits more human-like behavior once she goes on a coke binge. Cocaine BearCocaine Bear hits its peak absurdity level and never quite reaches that height again. The climax and final act are rather underwhelming compared to the setup and what takes place before the action reaches its crescendo.

Director Elizabeth Banks likes showing the bear in full view too much throughout the film, and quite often, the bear doesn’t look very good or convincing. A production like this obviously warranted significant visual effects and CG. However, based on recent works, it appears CG animal effects either have taken a step back in recent years or have not progressed very well. The bear’s CG visuals are not persuasive or believable enough. Less would have been a bit more in the bear’s case.

Interestingly, the bear does eventually emerge as an antihero of sorts. Rightfully so, the bear is not technically doing anything wrong. The predicament the film creates results from human incompetence more than hubris. Eventually, the bear enjoys some comedically heroic moments.

For the most part, Cocaine Bear delivers fairly well on its premise. Banks executes the comedic mayhem well, but even some surprising, horrific suspense in select sequences. This film is made to watch in groups for the midnight movie crowd, which is the best way to enjoy the experience.

The final score: review Good
The 411
Cocaine Bear is amusing, goofy fun. The premise is weird and ridiculous, but the movie embraces its absurdity with a fun, self-aware script. The humor and jokes don't always land very well, and the CG visual effects leave something to be desired. However, a solid cast and fairly good direction by Elizabeth Banks make this a fun, quick, breezy midnight movie experience.