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February 24, 2023 / Universal Pictures Canada

Starring: Keri Russell, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Christian Convery, Alden Ehrenreich, Brooklynn Prince, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Margo Martindale, Matthew Rhys, Ray Liotta

Directed By: Elizabeth Banks

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.

Written By Darren

Rating 3.5 out of 5

Cocaine Bear is as wild as the trailer promises, delivering the coke fueled rampage that audiences expect that is one entertaining ride if you surrender yourself to the absurdity of the premise.

The day has finally arrived and audiences are finally able to experience Cocaine Bear. Yes, the film that took the internet by storm when the trailer debuted is finally on the big screen. While marketed as being inspired by a true story, the truth ends at the fact that a bear ingested cocaine, as the rest of the film is one of the most outrageous experiences you will ever have in a movie theatre. But director Elizabeth Banks knows exactly how to turn this film into a smash hit, focusing on the cocaine fueled havock of this bear rather than the rather bland cast of human characters that for the most part act as live bait for the titular apex predator.

Loosely inspired by true events, the film revolves around a black bear that goes on a murderous rampage after ingesting cocaine that was dropped out of a plane into a Georgian forest by a drug smuggler. The individuals in the park must fight for their survival against this out of control apex predator that is on the prowl for more cocaine and not afraid to tear any human to shreds that gets in the way of him finding more cocaine.

Yes, the film is as ridiculous as it sounds, but the creative team lean in heavily to the absurdity to create a truly entertaining film. No one is coming to see Cocaine Bear for the story, they are here to witness a coked out black bear tear people to shreds. And that is what the film delivers: gory, outrageously outlandish set pieces where the bear brutally devours unexpecting humans while on the hunt for cocaine. There are scenes I never thought that I would witness in a film, such as a bear doing a line of cocaine, but Cocaine Bear has delivered so many cinematic moments I did not realize I needed to experience until I saw them. Banks infuses the film with a dark sense of humour that will have you laughing uncontrollably as the bear rips his victims to shreds. You are in shock at the gruesome images on the screen, but at the same time you can’t help but laugh controllably at the outrageousness of everything you are seeing unfold.

With a runtime of just over ninety minutes, the film never overstays its welcome. You are never more than a few minutes away from a bear tack after the film introduces all the characters in the national park where the bear is at. So even though the tone of the film is far too serious and the majority of the side characters are not very interesting, you can count on the fact that the cocaine bear is lurking just off camera waiting to claim its next victim. The set pieces are wildly entertaining, most notably the ambulance sequence in the middle of the film which is without a doubt the best scene of the entire film. While it would have been nice if the goofy tone of the bear sequences was kept throughout the entire film rather than the melodramatic parts focused only on the humans, the film as a whole is such a blast that it is easy to forgive this fault in the screenplay.

It’s truly shocking that the cast of Cocaine Bear includes the likes of Keri Russell, Margo Martindale, Alden Ehrenreich, Ray Liotta and O’Shea Jackson Jr., all of whom are great actors and did not need to be in this film. But every single one of them gives their performance everything they have, fully investing themselves in the wild premise. Liotta is perfectly cast in one of his final film appearances as the drug smuggler, and I could think of no better actor in the role. 

Jackson Jr. and Ehrenreich as two of Liotta’s employees searching for the drugs; they have a wonderful on screen banter that creates some great comedic moments. Martindale, who I cannot believe is in this film, is having a lot of fun as the love struck park ranger with a mean streak to her. And as always, Russell is tremendous and gives a strong performance as a mother looking for her daughter and daughter’s friend who have crossed paths with the bear.

If you surrender yourself to the outrageousness of Cocaine Bear, you are in for an absolute treat; but if you want something serious, you are watching the wrong film. Gory, unrelentlessly violent in the most comical and shocking way imaginable, and an absolute blast from start to finish, Cocaine Bear is the cinematic experience audiences have been waiting for that is guaranteed to have audiences roaring with laughter in what is truly a one of a kind film.

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