'Cocaine Bear' review: The bear is on barely enough cocaine

In a time when our eyes are assaulted by a barrage of audio/visual content on a near-constant basis, films have to go to exorbitant lengths to incite curiosity in their audience.

Published: 03rd March 2023 08:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd March 2023 08:37 AM   |  A+A-

Cocaine Bear

A still from the movie 'Cocaine Bear'

Express News Service

In a time when our eyes are assaulted by a barrage of audio/visual content on a near-constant basis, films have to go to exorbitant lengths to incite curiosity in their audience. Cocaine Bear is about a bear that eats a ton of cocaine and goes on a rampage. That is the kind of ridiculous premise that can easily build an audience.

A passerby could casually mention the title, and you best believe you will sit down right there and listen to them talk about what happened after a bear eats a bag full of cocaine. 

All Cocaine Bear had to do was do justice to the premise, not take itself too seriously, and provide insane over-the-top moments that you can enjoy with your friends. The film does deliver what we expect out of it but in bare minimum doses that you immediately forget the film right after it ends. 

Said to be based on true events, the film thankfully knows what part of reality to extract for the story and what part to leave behind, especially when it comes to the fate of the bear. The humans in the film who don’t end up getting chased, mauled, and chomped down by our protagonist, are easily the most uninteresting part of the film.

The humans we are supposed to follow and care about, and their supposed emotional connection to each other, are so one-dimensional and artificially written that the possibility of facing a drug-fuelled predator in real life seems more... real. 

Cocaine Bear reaches its peaks when it focuses solely on the cocaine, the bear, and the mix of both giving birth to some glorious violence on screen. However, in an attempt to look like a legitimate film and not something made by the makers of Jackass, the film shoehorns multiple story threads that force us to care for the characters.

The biggest drawback of the film is when it tries to give us wholesome moments just minutes after giving us exhilaratingly insane scenes filled with blood and gore. While we are still coming down from the shock and awe of these thrilling moments, we are left wanting more and are in no mood to entertain the force-fitted wholesomeness, especially in the end. 

The film fortunately wraps up just before the novelty of the one-note premise wears off. The makers,  thankfully, resisted the urge to anthropomorphise the bear, and didn’t go down the route of making this terrifying force of nature into a misunderstood gentle giant who later bonds with a human child like in a Disney film. The delightfully goofy moments, like when you see the bear frolicking in the grass, are used like seasoning while the meaty part of the action is crafted like a spine-chilling monster movie.  

Even while it is peppered with rambunctious fan-service moments like when the bear snorts a line of cocaine off a freshly mutilated leg, the film still makes us feel like it did not leverage the full potential of its story. Just as you appreciate Cocaine Bear for delivering an original self-contained story amid a sea of never-ending franchise films, the film disappoints us by hinting at a potential extension of the story.

While the bear rages out with tons of cocaine in its system, the film itself feels like that one friend who acts like a mean drunk while having just sipped one beer.

Film: Cocaine Bear
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Cast: Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Christian Convery 
Rating: 2.5/5


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