Opinion: Movie review corner: “Cocaine Bear”

An official movie poster for Universal Pictures’ “Cocaine Bear.”

An apex predator high on cocaine, “Cocaine Bear” is the latest film from actor-turned-filmmaker Elizabeth Banks. This new horror comedy is inspired by true events.

In 1985, drug smuggler Andrew C. Thornton II lost 036;2 million worth of cocaine in the Tennessee wilderness. The FBI later recovered the drugs and found that a black bear had ingested 75 pounds of the cocaine and died. The real cocaine bear is now on display in taxidermy form in the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall.

This new film follows a very similar premise, but the bear does not overdose on drugs and instead goes on a rampage, leaving a path of destruction and death.

“Cocaine Bear” relies heavily on how absurd the concept of it is. The title says it all, let’s be honest. Unfortunately, one of the biggest flaws with this film is that it relies too much on its absurdity, resulting in a story that lacks substance and fails to emotionally connect with its audience.

“Cocaine Bear” has a handful of entertaining sequences, but there are too many characters and small subplots in this film. Due to the large amount of characters, the film feels a bit underwritten. It was difficult to care about which characters would survive being attacked by the CGI bear; all the characters are one-note.

I appreciate this film’s effort to work off the Reagan-era “War on Drugs” notion, but this idea is underdeveloped.

The only thing really going for this film is its shock-value humor, jarring title and its poster.

While most of the mayhem is quite funny, any other attempts at comedy fall short. If some of the jokes were able to stick the landing, the glaring flaws with the underwritten characters may have been forgiven, but that just wasn’t the case, leading to a semi-awkward viewing experience.

Despite some of the glaring flaws with the film, there are some positive aspects worth noting. There is one sequence in the film involving an ambulance that is probably the highlight of the film. If you are watching this for the shock-value humor, this is likely going to be what you are most pleased with.

Ray Liotta, like usual, gives a really good performance. Liotta passed away in May 2022, meaning “Cocaine Bear” was the last film he acted in. A title card at the end of the film shows that it is dedicated to Liotta.