REVIEW: “Cocaine Bear” Is a Hilariously Violent Thrill Ride

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Cocaine Bear — But Why Tho

What can be said about Cocaine Bear that you may not initially expect when you buy a ticket to the theater? And straight off the beat this is very deserving of your theater dollars by the way. Based on the real 1985 story of the wild bear that got high off cocaineCocaine Bear is a highly fictionalized black comedy-slasher that expands the narrative to a set of (highly) violent encounters with the titular bear and the related shenanigans to the loss of smuggled cocaine. It’s absurd, hilarious, gory, and thrilling. It is literally called “Cocaine Bear,” so what else should you expect? Directed by Elizabeth Banks, written by Jimmy Warden, and produced by Lord Miller Productions and distributed by Universal Pictures,

Elizabeth Banks brings a great vision to the table, keenly balancing comedy, gory violence, and thrills. At multiple points you’ll tense as you anticipate a bear attack coming and fear for our wonderful mess of characters. Banks keeps you on the edge of your seat as you ponder about what will happen next. But perhaps more importantly, she does an effective job at showing that what happened to the titular bear is a man-made disaster. While you certainly feel for the human victims of the bear attack, the film concludes that the responsibility ultimately lies with humans to ensure that such a fiasco doesn’t happen again.

The script by Warden may be a bit disorganized at times, especially as it must balance all members of its ensemble cast, but retains this core ethos and sharp hilarity throughout the runtime, balancing well with Banks’ excellent direction. The violence from the Cocaine Bear is a lot more than I expected, and works to great effect. While the gore and suspense will understandably terrify you, you’ll also find it hilariously absurd in the (honestly!) creative ways that Banks and Warden find to kill and maim certain characters. For the scope of the premise, Banks and Warden find imaginative ways of pushing the boundaries of it.

While all the cast brings their A-game, Alden Ehrenreich is the standout as Eddie. Ehrenreich has a unique gift of eliciting laughs and sympathy for his characters predicament, garnering sympathetic “aws” from the audience in between their laughter. He’s a delight to watch as Eddie navigates the sheer absurdity of his and Daveed’s (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) predicament. Kerri Russell  as Sari and Brooklynn Prince as her daughter Deedee also shine in their scenes, and the rest of the cast are able to effectively balance the horror and hilarity as a whole.

The cinematography for Cocaine Bear by John Guleserian is outstanding as he shows the stunning forest and valley landscapes of Georgia. It makes the absurdity of the film even more hilarious in the contrast with the plot. These characters are dealing with a violent and rampaging coked-up bear as they run through beautifully stunning natural parks. It’ll almost make you want to book a trip to a park if fear of an apex predator on drugs doesn’t deter you from doing so.

Cocaine Bear is a hilariously violent thrill ride that will make you scream and laugh many times throughout its runtime. With excellent direction from Elizabeth Banks, a solid and sharp script by Jimmy Warden, creative and hilarious use of violent gore, and superb performances elevates it beyond the intrigue of its absurd title and premise. Balancing how seriously it takes itself with its inherent absurdity, Cocaine Bear a hilarious and violent ride you won’t want to miss when it hits theaters and streaming.

Cocaine Bear is playing in theaters nationwide.


Rating
  • 8/10
    Cocaine Bear (2023) - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Cocaine Bear is a hilariously violent thrill ride that will make you scream and laugh many times throughout its runtime…Balancing how seriously it takes itself with its inherent absurdity, Cocaine Bear a hilarious and violent ride you won’t want to miss when it hits theaters and streaming.

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