“Cocaine Bear” is a movie you think might go over the ‘line’ and you hope it doesn’t ‘blow’. Some of the situations are more than you can ‘bear’, so make sure your movie ticket has an Escape ‘Claws’. You know that ‘things go better with Coke’, especially a drugged-up bear with anger issues. So sit back and take just another ‘hit’…
The Way-Back machine has been set to 1985, and the country is scanning the skies for any of the numerous drug-smuggling planes. One of these planes has a load of Columbian-processed cocaine, and it is headed to a St. Louis drug lord. The unfortunate pilot, named Andrew Thornton II (played by Matthew Rhys), has engine problems and dumps a large number of duffle bags out of the plane.
The duffle bags are full of drugs, along with the pilot. He is so high that he forgets to check his parachute. The empty plane lands with a crash, and the poor pilot lands with a thud. Now the officials are aware of the massive dump of drugs in the Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest area. The drug smugglers know the location, too.
The St. Louis drug kingpin named Syd (played by Ray Liotta) sends his two best people to go and fetch the drugs. At least, these are the only ones around right now. The muscle of the operation will be Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.). Syd will also send his son Eddie (played by Alden Ehrenreich). Eddie has not gotten over the death of his wife.
But a local Georgia Detective named Bob (played by Isiah Whitlock Jr.) goes into the National Forest area to investigate. But already on the scene is Park Ranger Liz (played by Margo Martindale). She is there along with a visitor – Wildlife Inspector Peter (played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson). Liz carries a badge and a gun, but probably should only be allowed to have the badge.
A local nurse named Sari (played by Keri Russell) is divorced and lives with her daughter. Her girl Dee Dee (played by Brooklynn Prince) thought that Sari was planning to take the day off and go into the woods with her. They want to find a hidden waterfall and cave near the river. Instead Sari leaves to go to work.
Dee Dee is instructed to head off to school. Dee Dee has a much better idea, and she ditches classes for a trip into the National Forest area. She does not go alone. She goes with her friend Henry (Christian Convery), who wants to do his best to impress her.
But there are still more people on the trail in the forest where an unsuspecting black bear finds an unbelievable supply of nose candy. There is a German tourist couple, who are the first to spot the erratic habits of a coked-up bear. That bear has found some of the cocaine-filled duffle bags ripped open, and she has been sampling the goods all day long.
The only thing that ‘Cokey the Bear’ wants now is more coke. And she will go on a murderous rampage of wanton destruction to get more. If anyone stands in her way, there will be some gnarly gashing and gnashing. Death and blood will be an ever-present visitor to the Chattahoochee National Forest location of Blood Mountain.
Daveed and Eddie get to the Park Ranger station. There are group of minor-league thugs, and they try to take down Daveed. That goes badly for them. One of them lets on that they found a duffle bag of drugs in the woods. Kid (played by Aaron Holliday) gets roped into leading Eddie and Daveed into the woods to find the bag. Hope it is nowhere near that raging coke fiend named ‘Cokey the Bear’. But ‘Cokey’ is on a mission.
Any of the bricks of cocaine that fell from the sky now rightfully belong to super-high and very dangerous black bear. If the people at the Ranger Station get in way of ‘Cokey the Bear’ – then they are asking for a severed limb or two. That goes for Ranger Liz and Inspector Peter. Sari and Henry are near the Ranger Station, and they have the good sense to get away. That cannot be said for the rest of the minor-league thugs. Also for the hapless ambulance crew that come to the station to help. These folks are all going to need a new ambulance crew.
Henry tells Sari that he and Dee Dee were attacked earlier by the big black bear with power on its nose. Dee Dee had the good sense to get away. But Eddie and Daveed, led by the Kid, make it to where the minor-league thugs found a duffle bag. But there is a confrontation, well, quite a few.
First a fight with Detective Bob, who has been searching for the St. Louis kingpin named Syd. But then there is a new confrontation with this group and with Syd, who has come from St. Louis. Again there is more trouble when they all need to fight off the crazed ‘Cokey the Bear’.
Sari and Henry finally find Dee Dee hiding in a cave. Syd, along with Daveed and Eddie, are on the trail and also find the cave. This cave happens to have a load of duffle bags full of coke. Oh, and for good measure, the cave is also home to the two baby black bear cubs. These two darlings have been helping themselves to the piles and pile of coke. So, when the rampaging Mama Bear comes home to see all those people – guess how mad she is going to be.
Will the body count rise even higher than the coked-up drug-crazed bear? Will Sari be able to save her daughter and the schoolmate? Will Daveed be able to face up to Syd? Will Eddie ever get over his wife’s death? Will Syd ever act like a decent human being? And, after all else, will ‘Cokey the Bear’ ever see the error of her ways and check into rehab, for some much-needed addiction therapy?
“Cocaine Bear” is a terrifically absurd movie that does exactly what it says. Along the lines of say, “Snakes on a Plane”, you would expect to see a plane, a plane that is full of snakes. Here, you expect to see a bear, a bear that has consumed a ferocious amount of cocaine. If that is what you think you will see, then you hit it right up the nose — I mean — right on the nose.
Perhaps, if this movie is really successful, it can start a mini-franchise:
Elizabeth Banks took a totally whacked-out script by Jimmy Warden, and she leaned into the absurd ideas and makes them real. It helps to a group of actors who are ready to dig into the farce and fallacy of this ‘true story’. They are all prepared to embrace the madness of a coked-out bear and the ridiculous results.
“Cocaine Bear” could have been created as a quiet and subdued semi-documentary, but it is nothing of that ‘snort’, I mean – sort. As a crazy, cocaine-fueled comedy, this movie doesn’t ‘blow’.
Directed by: Elizabeth Banks
Written by: Jimmy Warden
Starring: Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Christian Convery, Alden Ehrenreich, Margo Martindale, Ray Liotta, Aaron Holliday
Cinematography: John Guleserian
Edited by: Joel Negron
Music by: Mark Mothersbaugh
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release date: February 24, 2023
Length: 95 minutes
MPAA rating: R for bloody violence and gore, drug content and language throughout
Genre: Animal Action Comedy