I have been excited about Cocaine Bear since I saw the first trailer. It just looked like an insane concept that was going to be a ton of fun, in a B-movie type of way. That is exactly what Cocaine Bear is. It is a movie that knows exactly what kind of film it is and does not stray too far from that idea.
It is based on a true story. What that means is that there was a drug runner who threw out a bunch of cocaine from a plane over a mountain where they usually dropped these loads. Unfortunately, the drug runner did not survive the leap from the plane himself, leaving the cargo unclaimed in the woods. It was found and consumed by a black bear.
That much is true. After that, the story of the movie takes a bit of a turn into fiction. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As in many of these types of horror/monster movies, the human characters are introduced to give the monster something to do. Some of these characters are simply there to be fodder for the Cocaine Bear.
However, there were several characters that I liked and wanted to root for. Keri Russell played a mother whose daughter ditched school to go to the woods instead. The daughter, Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince), went with her friend Henry (Christian Convery). Christian Convery was the titular character in Netflix’s series, Sweet Tooth, and he was great here. He had some excellent comedic timing and he delivered some of the movie’s best lines.
The main drug runner, Syd, was played by the late, great Ray Liotta. Liotta brought some credibility to the film, though his character was fairly underwritten. He did much more with the character than was on the page, like many top actors are able to do.
Syd sent two henchmen, Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich), to retrieve the coke, but Eddie had just recently had a loss in his life that was making his inclusion on the trip a challenge. Eddie also turned out to be the son of Syd, whom he had left his son with while he mourned the loss of his wife.
I really liked the pairing of Daveed and Eddie and I wanted them to survive the cocaine bear.
The film has some very funny, very dark moments of comedy that I appreciated. There is also some very gory, brutal scenes of the cocaine bear on its rampage. One in particular involving Ray Liotta, that I will not spoil any further. There was also a jaw-dropping moment with Margo Martindale, who was a forest ranger, that you’ll know when you see it.
Martindale is always great and she dominated nearly all the scenes that she was included in.
While Cocaine Bear is never going to win any awards for acting or movie making, the film has plenty of fun and some great dark humor. I enjoyed watching this movie and I would recommend it to anyone as long as they approach it with the right mentality. It’s a dumb movie, for sure, but dumb can be fun if done properly and I thought this movie was just that.