February 20, 2023

GENRE | Elizabeth Banks Chases the 'Cocaine Bear' Necessities

"The bear [...] f*cking did cocaine!"
Scott Seiss Elizabeth Banks Phil Lord Christopher Miller | Cocaine Bear
Universal Pictures / Lord Miller Productions
Actress turned director Elizabeth Banks helms the 1980s horror-comedy throwback that mostly lives up to its spectacularly obvious title, Cocaine Bear. Full of apex predator animal hijinx, the film's deceptively simple premise—just barely inspired by actual true events where a black bear (nicknamed "Pablo Eskobear") ingested a duffle bag of cocaine in 1985—mines tons of relentless, drug-fuelled violence.

Starring a host of familiar faces from Keri Russell, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, esteemed character actreess Margot Martindale, and Ray Liotta in one of his final on-screen roles, they all play various bystanders and ne'er-do-wells who come into contact with the titular coked-out bear. Things start out pretty straightforward where a middle-of-nowhere drug drop in the a Georgia national park accidentally gets devoured by a—well, you already know. Conflict ensues.

Produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and scripted by Jimmy Warden, everything gets pretty wild fast in the absurd period exploitation film. Banks frames her B-movie through a horror lens with broad moments of disruptive comedic antics. It's too bad some circumstantial CGI effects often hurt the dramatic gore and tension of the overall momentum of the surprisingly convoluted story about a bear constantly doing drugs then killing people.

Cocaine Bear largely delivers on its wildly basic and zany setup of bear killing rampage it promises. There's not nearly as much out-and-out comedy as you might expect from the title, cast of comedic actors, and general vibe of the film's marketing. Nonethless, it's ninety-five minutes of violent fun highlighted by moments of dark humour but not much else.

More | YVArcadeIndiewire / Inverse / Polygon

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