‘Cocaine Bear’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

It’s sad to say that we’re living at a time when a fun B movie doesn’t generate the same buzz as a blockbuster. There should be excitement surrounding a new original story with an off-the-wall concept. In Elizabeth Banks’ Cocaine Bear, we get exactly what we expect, and the humour among the cast of characters works extremely well. This is based on a true story, and it almost felt like a deranged nature documentary about a bear who accidentally does cocaine. Some subplots didn’t work because they scratched the surface and weren’t developed enough. But the story involving motherhood and the lengths women go to for their children is the strongest. 

Three roads lead to the forest where the bear resides. Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) and David (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.)  are two drug dealers who have to retrieve cocaine so they don’t get killed. And they have a detective (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) on their tail. Then two children, Deidre (Brooklynn Prince) and Henry (Christian Convery) skip school to get to the waterfall in the middle of the trail to paint without their mother, Sari (Keri Russell) knowing. Lastly, Ranger Liz (Margo Martindale) and some delinquents get involved because it’s their territory. The strongest thread here is the story with the kids because we stay with them longer, and the mother’s journey to get them back is probably the more relatable story out of the rest. However, that doesn’t mean that the additional storylines don’t add much-needed humour with an out-of-control bear. 

Banks makes some great choices with the action in this film. There was good tension to build up to the reveal of the bear in certain scenes. There are subtle movements that make you feel that something is lurking, and then the bumping score would add to the surprise of the bear attack. The kills are the most important aspect of this film. Those kills were inventive, bonkers and hilarious. Limbs were flying off, and the bear brutally attacked people differently. The more cocaine the bear found, the more you began rooting for her. Once we find that the bear is a woman (thanks to Eddie saying it aloud when she collapses on top of him), the story about motherhood and protecting their young no matter what becomes even more prevalent as they near the end. 

Cocaine Bear is a high-octane, hilarious action-thriller that will put a big smile on your face. It’s just dumb fun because of how absurd the concept is. The cast all work together quite well, and the characters get to the forest early on for each group of people to have their moment to shine. Ehrenreich and Jackson, Jr had the best chemistry as they played best friends, Martindale as the Ranger was hilarious because she had no idea what she was doing. And the late-great Ray Liotta coming in as the head honcho drug dealer was so good that he was the reason you end up rooting for the bear. The ending shows how difficult parenting can be and that the connection with your parents can be strained. However, there can always be an appreciation for what parents can teach you, and it’s ultimately up to you to change the cycle or follow suit. 

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