Movie Review: COCAINE BEAR (2023)
Probably one of the joyously craziest films I've seen in the last few years
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie in theaters — most movies I watch these days have been for the nostalgic film podcast Myopia Movies and those are older films I typically stream or, occasionally, rent from VideoDrome here in Atlanta. Part of it is time and part of it is that there simply aren’t a lot of movies coming out that interest me.
Then I heard about an upcoming film called Cocaine Bear and was instantly intrigued. Did it live up to my expectations? Here goes…
Back in the 1980s, a black bear came across some cocaine abandoned by a drug smuggler and ate it, soon dying of an overdose. But what if the bear had instead become hyper-aggressive and addicted to cocaine?
Cut to the Chattahoochee National Forest in 1985. When a drug smuggler who abandoned his aircraft after chucking bags of cocaine into the woods is found dead in someone’s driveway after a parachute malfunction, police detective Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and drug dealers Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) head south to retrieve the drugs. Meanwhile, artistic middle-schooler Deidre “Dee Dee” (Brooklynn Prince), vexed that her nurse mother Sari (Keri Russell) has broken a promise to take her to see waterfalls to instead see a doctor she’s involved with playing in a band that weekend, ditches school with her friend Henry (Christian Convery) to go paint the falls herself. And park ranger Liz (Margo Martindale) is dealing with some local punks who have been robbing hikers.
Unfortunately for all of them, some of the missing cocaine has been found by a black bear that has now become extremely aggressive and will attack anybody it encounters.
*The movie is absolutely off-the-chain hilarious. There is so much dark-humored slapstick, drug jokes, and other insanity that I simply could not stop laughing for much of the movie. There’s a sequence involving an ambulance that is absolutely glorious.
*Although many critics have said nobody is seeing the movie because they care about Sari trying to find the missing Dee Dee, that subplot is stronger than the cop subplot and the drug-dealer subplot. Credit where it’s due to Russell, Prince, and Convery for making us care about them. Prince and Convery are pretty funny as the foul-mouthed middle schoolers, while Russell convincingly portrays a worried mother.
*The filmmakers put in the effort to make it a 1980s period piece. No cell phones, a purely 1980s soundtrack, and a lot of little cultural details like how Dee Dee is a latchkey kid, the types and prices of candy, etc.
*The movie is relatively short. Nobody needs a two to three hour epic about a drug-addicted killer bear. Nice, tight, and crazy.
*The movie is great to watch once, but I don’t know how much re-watch value it really has. Maybe if you want to watch the ambulance sequence over and over I could see that, but I don’t think it’d be nearly as much fun the second time around.
*One character is abducted rather than killed by the bear without explanation. I can infer something based on a big reveal later in the film, but the connection isn’t very strong.
*Towards the end it starts to drag a bit.
9.0 out of 10. Go see it and encourage Hollywood to make mid-budget and creative-concept films like they used to.
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