Cocaine Bear: gory dark comedy

Keri Russell and the bear in Cocaine Bear

Cocaine Bear, directed by Elizabeth Banks, tells a story triggered by a real event, but is a wild version far from the reality of what happened. It’s an over the top gory version of what might happen if an 800 pound black bear developed a love for cocaine.

Cocaine Bear takes place in a national park in Georgia. A drug dealer with a plane load of cocaine was heading for a crash. He threw duffel bags of the goods off the plane, then jumped himself. His parachute didn’t open, so splat! The duffel bags fell all over the forest. A hungry mama bear with two cubs tried the coke, liked it, and wanted more.

Dismembering humans was part of the buzz for the bear. Quite a few cast members didn’t make it to the end.

Brooklynn Prince in Cocaine Bear

Young artist Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince) and her friend Henry (Christian Convery) were ditching school to paint a waterfall in the park. Dee Dee’s mom, Sari (Keri Russell), realized where her daughter was when the school called, and went to the park to find her.

Keri Russell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Margo Martindale in Cocaine Bear
Henry, bears can climb trees. Come down.

When Sari got to the park she enlisted the help of Ranger Liz (Margo Martindale) and biologist Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) to get her to the waterfall. A park ranger wearing extra lipstick and European perfume to impress Peter might not be the best person to deal with a wild ass bear. Especially since she couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with that pistol.

Ray Liotta, Alden Ehrenreich, O'Shea Jackson Jr., and Ayoola Smart in Cocaine Bear
Bad guys, good guys? It’s hard to tell.

Syd (Ray Liotta, in his last role) heard about where the cocaine had landed. He was on the hook for the money if it didn’t get delivered. He sent his henchman Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and his depressed son Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) to retrieve it. Eventually he showed up himself.

Cops, including Det. Bob Springs (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and Officer Reba (Ayoola Smart) arrived on the scene, along with an ambulance and EMTs who thought they were called to deal with a concussion.

The ambulance guy under a door bearing a bear
Not just a concussion, buddy.

Yeah, there were all those folks, plus a couple of hikers and a gang of hooligans in the park. All of them heading hither and thither as the bear systematically removed bits and pieces of just about everyone while eating, snorting, and rolling in the expensive cocaine Syd wanted to salvage so badly. It was a wild and bloody mess.

It was crazy, exciting, funny, gruesome, and full of suspense. A wild watch. Did this film have a point? A message? I’m not sure, honestly. What did you think?

The film is streaming on Peacock. Peacock is also streaming Cocaine Bear: The True Story, a short documentary with a trailer.

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