‘Cocaine Bear’ is just pointless
April 10, 2023
In “Cocaine Bear,” a bear gets high on cocaine and goes on a violent rampage. If you are expecting anything else from the film’s one-and-a-half hour runtime, you should drastically lower your expectations. The film’s listed genre of ‘Comedy Horror’ is not the most apt descriptor. It is not particularly funny or scary, rather plods on at an aggravating pace punctuated by moments that are clearly intended to be jokes but do not quite land. Director Elizabeth Banks has made a genuine effort to create something compelling out of a weird 80s news story, but the resulting film exists for the purpose of its name and premise rather than for any merit it might (not) offer.
Along with the titular bear, there are a variety of human characters who appear in the film. Two kids skipping school, a worried mother searching for them, a gang of no-good teens wreaking havoc, and a grumpy park ranger are just some of the many colorful characters roaming through the park. The most interesting out of the many subplots features Ray Liotta of “Goodfellas” and O’Shea Jackson Jr. of “Straight Outta Compton” as the intended recipients of the cocaine shipment, but even their determined quest to recover the lost goods before their clients get angry quickly grows old as the audience is constantly reminded that there is only so much to say here. There is a bear high on cocaine. That’s about it.
Another issue posed by the presence of park rangers and drug lords in the film is that these characters are inevitably carrying weapons. When police also enter the park in search of the cocaine, there is a shocking amount of characters carrying guns around and a grand total of zero who manage to shoot and kill the bear. Of course, killing the bear would prematurely end the film, so this leaves the writers to think up increasingly frustrating reasons for why they do not shoot the bear. Bear enthusiasts in the audience may argue that shooting a bear is not always enough to stop it from attacking you, but surely it is worth a try? The presence of so many unused guns makes the whole thing feel like a pointless endeavor that should have ended an hour earlier.
“Cocaine Bear” must be commended for delivering on everything the title promises. A bear certainly does cocaine in the film, and that alone is probably enough to draw people to the theaters. Maybe it is unfair to expect comedy or logic from a film that is just trying to show people what happens when a bear does cocaine. In fact, it is probably the best film in existence on the topic. The film currently has a 73 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and is far outperforming expectations at the box office. Fortunately, there has only been one recorded instance of a bear getting high on cocaine, so if they decide to make a sequel they will need to be a little more creative next time.