Review: Cocaine Bear


This is the second bear-based movie I reviewed for “It’s Just Movies” in one week. The first was the execrable “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey.” Honey is supposed to be sweet, but when you mix it with blood, it’s a real stinkeroo. Both movies deal with demented bears, and I was tempted to write a combination piece, especially since the “Cocaine Bear” is a mama with cubs – “Mayhem and the Three Bears”? Something like that.

“Cocaine Bear” was released by Universal Pictures, so at least it has some polish. There are some familiar faces as well. Emmy-winner Ray Liotta (“Goodfellas”) appears as a somewhat vicious drug smuggling gangster and grandfather named Syd. Margo Martindale (“The Watcher”), a familiar character actor in film and TV, plays a sex-driven middle aged park ranger, Liz.

The star, aside from the addled bear, is Keri Russell, currently the lead in Netflix’s “The Diplomat. And, last but not least, in a surprise cameo is Matthew Rhys (HBO’s “Perry Mason”), as the coke-snorting madman who’s dumping of hundreds of pounds of cocaine in a national park triggers the whole story.

This movie is not as horrible as “Blood and Honey.” Not because the script is so much better, or the acting is that competent, or the technicals are professional, but because it doesn’t take itself seriously! The result is a romp through the woods with numerous characters getting various body parts removed by a bear desperate for another fix.

So we are treated to a mashup of kids playing hooky from school, the romantic ranger and her bear expert, teen delinquents, law enforcement types tracking the cocaine, mob types tracking the cocaine, and of course the bear getting the cocaine and munching on every human limb within reach. There are many clever bits, such as when the bear snorts a line of cocaine off the severed foot of one of its victims.

As I said, the movie technicals are first rate, including what must have been a major effort to CGI the bear in its various antics. And the acting is adequate and, as you would expect with this type of film, way over the top.

This is OK comic relief for a boring afternoon, or a date where the film is not the main attraction. One wonders what Universal would have done as producer instead of just distributor, especially if they still had “the boys” around: “Abbott and Costello Meet the Cocaine Bear”?


Director: Elizabeth Banks
Writer: Jimmy Warden
Producers: More folks than there are bears in the woods
Cinematographer: John Guleserian
Editor: Joel Negron
Music: Mark Mothersbaugh
Runtime: One hour, 35 minutes
Availability: In Theaters, VOD on Peacock

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