Sunday 27 August 2023

Movie Review: Cocaine Bear (2023)

Genre: Monster Horror Comedy
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Starring: Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich, Ray Liotta, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Margo Martindale
Running Time: 95 minutes

Synopsis: In 1985, a drug runner working for gangster Syd (Ray Liotta) drops cocaine-filled bags from a small plane over Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest. A bear consumes the cocaine and becomes crazed, attacking two hikers. Syd sends his son Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) and fixer Daveed (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) to retrieve the drugs, and they are pursued by detective Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr.). Also in the park are kids Dee Dee and Henry, while Dee Dee's worried mom Sari (Keri Russell) searches for them. Park ranger Liz (Margo Martindale), an environmental officer, and a bunch of thugs are the bear's other potential victims.

What Works Well: Based on an actual incident in which a bear died after consuming cocaine dumped from a smuggler's plane, this is a silly, fun, gory, and often hilarious comedy. Highlights include a wild ambulance ride, the bear passing out in a most inconsiderate position, and wayward pistol shooting by the hapless park ranger. The special effects are generally passable, and the music score adds peppy energy with several mid-80's era songs.

What Does Not Work As Well: The cast is cluttered with a few too many bad guys, worse guys, and idiots, and although the insistence on using backstories to round most of the characters is appreciated, the intervals between bear attacks drift sideways into the forest of indifference. The combination of big gore and big laughs is sometimes jarring.

Conclusion: Unsurprisingly, "Don't Do Drugs" also applies to bears.

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