Pages Navigation Menu

"No matter where you go, there you are."


Review: Cocaine Bear – “A title that is its own high concept”

Out now, “comedy-thriller” Cocaine Bear was written by Jimmy Warden (The Babysitter: Killer Queen), directed by Elizabeth Banks (Charlie’s Angels) and stars Keri Russell (Waitress), Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (The Wire) and the legendary Ray Liotta (Goodfellas).

It’s the mid-80s and a plane-load of cocaine gets accidentally dumped over an American national park. The out-of-pocket drug dealers (Ehrenreich, Jackson Jr. and Liotta) and a tough cop (Whitlock Jr.) converge on the woods to search for the Class A nose candy and cross paths with park rangers, medics and a mum (Russell) looking for her kids. Unfortunately for all of them, they are about to discover that a large bear has hoovered up every gram of the Peruvian marching powder and is now on a murderous rampage.

With a title that is its own high concept and guaranteed to get amused and excited bums on seats on that alone, but then delivering a disappointing film that is nowhere near as fun or cool as you had hoped and imagined, there is a definite whiff of Snakes on a Plane about Cocaine Bear. Except Snakes on a Plane was better and actually felt like a real film.

A confused tone, black hole of actual jokes and a cheap, rushed, slapped together at-the-last-minute feel are apparent throughout Cocaine Bear and the one or two decent laughs and gore gags are nowhere near enough to fill a 90-minute runtime, no matter how many nostalgic 80s needle drops are dropped.

For a comedy, Cocaine Bear doesn’t actually “do” jokes. It’s like there was a list of set-ups for skits, but no actually scripted comedy. Instead, an odd occurrence happens and the cast stop and wait long enough to let it feel awkward and the audience to know to fill the silence with a laugh. This may work the first or second time, but the “Wow, isn’t this crazy?! Can you believe this is a real movie??” schtick runs out of steam almost immediately and is all Cocaine Bear has got.

So, you’ll have laughed more at the Renfield and Strays trailers before the film, than at Cocaine Bear itself, but at least there’ll be some cool action and gore, right? No. Elizabeth Banks couldn’t direct action in Charlie’s Angels and no lessons have been learned in the interim. The bear is just a CG cartoon that never feels dangerous and gets as hung out to dry as the human cast with zero iconic moments, copy and pasted into action and suspense sequences with no action or suspense.

It’s a real shame that this was Ray Liotta’s final role, and a massive shame that after his adorable breakthrough turn in Hail, Caesar! this is where Alden Ehrenreich has ended up.

Cocaine Bear is on general release now.

Previous PostNext Post


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.