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Cocaine Bear

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

It's been a long time since I've sniffed as many laughs as I did in the intentional B-movie tribute COCAINE BEAR. Gory, hilarious and not-family friendly, it's loaded with A-list actors having a lot of fun.

The film opens with actual 1985 NBC Nightly News footage (thank you Universal/NBC ties) about football sized packets of cocaine found across Georgia after a drug running plane went down in a national forest. The film shows us what happened on the plane and it's the first sign that we're going to have a lot of fun as the filmmakers take some hilarious liberties with real-life events.

A hippie couple is exploring how groovy nature is when our very coked-up 500lb black bear goes off on them. Limbs fly Eli Roth/Q Tarantino style and the film never lets up for a brisk and enjoyable 90 minutes.

Keri Russell (Felicity, Waitress) is a single mom and nurse whose daughter decided to ditch school with a buddy and head to the waterfall in the national park. Oops.

Ray Liotta, in his last film role before his passing, is hilarious as Syd, a redneck drug lord with the most hapless squad imaginable, including his depressed son Eddie, played for maximum sad laughs by Alden Ehrenreich (Solo).

O'Shea Jackson Jr (Straight Outta Compton) is a riot as Daveed, the most competent member of Syd's squad who seems to be holding the whole damn operation afloat by himself. His efforts to not get blood on his favorite sports jersey are just one of many great running jokes.

Superb actress Margo Martindale (August Osage County) is hilarious as a frisky park ranger with eyes for macho National Park supervisor played in a fright wig by the flawless Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Mitchell" on the long running TV comedy "Modern Family". That's already a great comic set up.

I didn't know how funny a vicious bear attack on two adults could be until I saw Ferguson and Martindale's comic timing while they're getting the absolute crap beat out of them by our manic title character. Ferguson's screams as he's eaten halfway up a tree are flawlessly laugh-out-loud.

12 year old Christian Convery delivers as the foul mouthed school kid trapped in the next tree. His reactions are a highlight, as are his claims that he does coke all the time when he and Russell's daughter DeeDee find the drugs.

Isiah Whitlock Jr (Da 5 Bloods, Black KkKlansman) is a highlight as a local police detective as concerned with his newly adopted poodle (he definitely wanted a more macho breed) as he is with catching Syd and his backward band of cokeheads.

The music score by Devo founder Mark Mothersbaugh is clever and like the rest of the film, way better than it has to be!

Director Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect) puts forth her best effort in the chair, bringing a sure hand to the physical comedy that constantly pushes the gore envelope.

A scene with our runaway, hopped-up bear, an ambulance and a hell of a lot of badly aimed bullets from Martindale had me laughing while admiring the staging.

From the opening moments with Jefferson Starship's "Jane" playing over the Universal logo to the bloody finale, I had way more fun than I expected to with COCAINE BEAR.

An intentional B-movie loaded with bloody fun and big R-rated laughs, this beast gets a B!

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