COCAINE BEAR Review: The Bear Did Cocaine!
It's difficult not to get a reaction out of this utterly absurd film that's based on real events, and the title says it all: Cocaine Bear. Like most Hollywood productions based on real events, the producers of the film went to great lengths to modify certain aspects of the real story, in particular, the brilliant idea of turning this bear into a killing machine. The film generated a lot of interest on social media due to the crazy nature of the concept which gives flashbacks to Snakes On A Plane released in 2006 for those who remember it. Unlike Snakes On a Plane, Cocaine Bear manages to deliver on its bonker premise.
Synopsis: "An oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converge on a Georgia forest where a huge black bear goes on a murderous rampage after unintentionally ingesting cocaine."
Right from the opening sequence we are introduced to the sharp and cruel sense of humor of the filmmakers as a pilot unloads a shipment of cocaine which leads to a farcical misadventure. Cocaine Bear knows exactly what type of movie it is: an hilarious and gory slasher where the main star is a coked up bear. Just like its titular drug, it starts very high and runs out a bit of steam by the end but it was utterly glorious and satisfying to witness the carnage of this 500-pound bear. One of the film's strongest qualities is its ability not to take itself seriously.
Director Elizabeth Banks knows how to introduce a cast of entertaining, cartoonish characters that will serve as a main course for Cocaine Bear who's completely out of control. Among these actors we find a depressed and endearing Alden Ehrenreich, Ray Liotta in one of the last roles he shot, Keri Russell who plays the desperate mother and many other appearances including Scott Seiss whom you may recognize from his "TikTok retail" that went viral during the pandemic. Even though a TikTok personality's appearance in a big production might make your eyes roll, his character is part of one of the craziest sequences that drew cheers from the crowd. Everyone adds their two cents and contributes to the success of the many gags.
Cocaine Bear finds many ways to surpass expectations and entertain even if the movie can't hide all of its flaws. In terms of editing, the challenge was to follow different characters in several places while keeping a certain momentum and this is not always mission accomplished for Elizabeth Banks. There's a smorgasbord of limbs torn apart by the beast, and the good news is that the gore doesn't disappoint, even if the horror elements are slightly neglected.
The music by Mark Mothersbaugh also adds to the 1980s vibe with energetic synthesizers, no surprise coming from Devo's keyboard player who's a wise choice as the composer for the film. All in all, it's an experience one can enjoy with a cheering midnight crowd and director Elizabeth Banks understands what people want from a movie called Cocaine Bear, something Snakes On A Plane didn't understand in 2006. Victory goes to the bear with the help of a little cocaine.
Initial Score: 7.5/10
Cocaine Bear is being released in theaters on February 24th
I also had the honor to write a review for Horreur Québec in French, the review in French can be found on their website here.