ShareAll sharing options for:Cocaine Bear (2023) review: This Charlie bear delivers a nature attacks high
- Twitter (opens in new window)
- Facebook (opens in new window)
- Reddit (opens in new window)
- Pocket (opens in new window)
- Flipboard (opens in new window)
- Email (opens in new window)
Let’s all take a moment to revel in that warm – all too rare – feeling, as a major studio greenlights and supports a project that is genuinely this wild. Let alone one that brings the nature attacks genre ever closer back to the big screen, and away from the afternoon cheapo TV slot. With an added hook…a class A drug-filled true story!
Naturally, Elizabeth Banks’ film does rather bend the truth a bit, and the story that inspired this film is decisively sadder and less viscera-laden, but Cocaine Bear is a distinctive act of revisionist cinematic retribution for the real unfortunate bear that inspired this movie. And on top of that it’s a blast to sit through.
Set in 1986, the film sees a plane drug smuggling operation go awry, as pounds upon pounds of cocaine find themselves scattered across Chattahoochee–Oconee National Forest. As a drug kingpin goes in search of his product, it just so happens a 500-pound American Black Bear has got there first. Inevitably all hell breaks loose.
After the internet engrossing crazy first trailer for this film hit, we all had high hopes for this one. And while the film may not quite match those mental expectations, it still delivers a fun night at the flicks, clearly ingesting some of the wicked humour of producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
After the opening jolt, the first half does take it’s time to take effect (though it admirably attempts to build its characters in the process) but once it kicks in, Cocaine Bear is a ferocious and funny drug-fuelled return to the kind of mad nature attacks horror thrillers that used to hit cinemas often. And a very welcome hit of madness, even if it admittedly could have been even wilder. But hey, let’s just appreciate the late ‘80s/early ‘90s genre pick n’ mix fun we have here.
Stylish, gory as any 15 certificate could possibly be, and featuring no doubt one of 2023‘s most thrilling chase scenes in a heart in mouth ambulance sequence which is bracingly fresh and brutally distinctive, Cocaine Bear more than delivers.
Elizabeth Banks directs the hell out of this one, approaching things with just the right tone, and handling her rather impressive cast well to boot. Many of them clearly having a great time with their roles. Especially, Alden Ehrenreich as the emotionally hanging by a thread drug pusher Eddie and O’Shea Jackson Jr. as his loyal, tough and constantly bewildered mate David. There are also some scene stealingly delightful turns by a hilarious Margo Martindale as Ranger Liz, Isiah Whitlock Jr. as the dog-loving Sheriff Bob, Aaron Holiday as local youth Stache and a nasty villain role by the late great Ray Liotta (to whom the film is dedicated).
At times a drug comedy, at others a gruesome nature attacks horror/thriller, and occasionally a Carpenter-esque scored (Mark Mothersbaugh take a bow) slasher starring a baloo on blow, this thing is quite the trip. And, make no mistake this bear is the MVP, the effects look great and the bear is treated with both sympathy and respect, in spite of the bonkers nose candy shenanigans, allowing for a small hint at why man really creates their own problems and nature often pays the price. Though this story is rather refreshingly re-framed, especially for this genre, ending just right as one long act of nature fighting back.
Great fun. Next up: Steroid Shark anyone?