It’s Like Crack: “Cocaine Bear” Review

By Emily Philbrook

Where do I even start? It’s a movie about a bear that does cocaine in the 80s in Chattahoochee National Park in Georgia. And it’s (loosely) based on a true story. A drug smuggler in 1985 threw some cocaine off a Cessna because the plane was too heavy before jumping to his own death later when his parachute failed to deploy. As accurate as these first minutes of the movie are, the rest of the film takes a couple liberties. Mainly: no one, besides that ill-fated smuggler, died in real life. In case it needs to be said, spoilers lie ahead.

Cocaine Bear does what it’s supposed to do: it’s a cheesy 90-minute thriller comedy with basically no real plot and a lot of gore. It doesn’t take itself seriously, which is the only right way to make a movie like this. If it wanted to be deep or profound, it would be a tragically terrible and catastrophically cringeworthy movie. The comedy is in the film’s premise and is boosted by the obscene gore. Despite not being a fan of visceral blood and injuries myself, I still found it to be funny—if also deeply disturbing. 

We follow six sub-plots throughout the movie: a mom trying to find her daughter, the cartel henchmen trying to find the rest of the lost cocaine, a horny park ranger, some regular Kentucky delinquents looking for trouble, an FBI chase, and a sweet little Scandinavian couple. These sub-plots are not flawlessly intertwined. In fact they are quite clunky. But that’s what makes the movie so good: the sub-plots only serve the purpose of giving the cocaine bear screen time. 

Everyone’s favorite Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson plays a short-lived role as a wildlife manager for the park. He’s unrecognizable from previous roles, and his character is woefully underdeveloped, but it’s always nice to see a familiar face roped into a spoof film. 

Going beyond its spoofy promise, the cinematography was actually pretty good. Props to Elizabeth Banks, the director, who also filmed another movie in my grandfather’s back yard last summer (Call Jane, if anyone was wondering). The movie mostly takes place over the course of one day, from morning to nightfall, as the bear chases and kills hoards of characters. One scene stood out amongst the others, where the one surviving Kentucky delinquent sits on a couch with his dead friends and tells the audience that they’ve always planned on going to New York together. That one cut-scene was very artistic of Banks, but unfortunately the only one in the whole movie. However, if it was any more artistic I would’ve thought she took the movie seriously, which would have jeopardized the film’s appeal as a self-aware B movie.

In the end, you have to be in a silly mood when you go to watch the movie. You will be sitting there thinking, “why did anyone make this?” and “thank God they did!” simultaneously. You cannot expect much, and you will leave a little dumbfounded, but if you’re in the mood to watch a movie about a coked-out bear, you’ll love it. 

Did I like it? Yes. I loved it. Would I see it again? Only under the influence.

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