You have three guesses for what a movie called Cocaine Bear is about. These two words are simple and eye-catching, and you would never expect them to be placed next to each other. However, Universal Pictures hired actress and director Elizabeth Banks to helm this loose adaptation of the true story of a bear that did cocaine in 1985. Pablo Escobear is making his cinematic debut in a horror comedy that knows what it is and has fun but never reaches its full potential for laughs and absurdity.
The opening scene quickly sells you to the film’s hilarious concept. It seems like an easy film to sell: bear does cocaine. Havoc ensues. Instant hit. For the most part, this movie knows how to make you laugh in the most unexpected ways. Cocaine Bear never takes itself too seriously, taking its premise and having fun with it. While in real life, the bear did not kill anyone, and nobody knows what happened to the bear after its ingestion, that wouldn’t make for a very entertaining movie. That’s why in this movie, the bear goes on a murderous, bloody rampage as it gets hooked on more and more coke.
You can’t say this movie doesn’t deliver exactly what the trailer offers. This film is a bloody good time with a bear that you can tell is CGI, but you won’t care because of how ridiculous the affair is. You have a bear that’s a straight-up slasher villain, and you’ll have a good time at the movies, even if the jokes can be hit-or-miss. Alden Ehrenreich gives a surprisingly hilarious performance as a grieving man in his first film role since Solo: A Star Wars Story. He brings so much humor to a character that could have been tragic. Another shining light is Christian Convery as Henry, a kid caught up in the insane madness.
The issues with the film lie in the existence of a few too many subplots and characters. This film needs many characters so the bear can kill a few of them, but they can all feel a little disposable. The premise owes itself to a non-stop hilarious gorefest, but this movie doesn’t have the momentum it should. Whenever the bear is offscreen, you’ll find yourself tapping your foot, waiting for her to show up again to wreak havoc. It’s the Jaws concept with a B-movie approach, and you can bet you’ll get plenty of blood, guns, and absurdity from this film.
It’s implausible, lacking a story, and the direction and cinematography are unremarkable. Still, it’s your predator-on-the-loose story á la Predator and Jurassic World hyped up on cocaine. You won’t always be rooting for the characters, but many of them are colorful and entertaining to watch. It doesn’t reach its full potential, but it has enough stimulants in its system to make you laugh. So even though it’s not for everyone, it just might be for you if you know what high-octane hijinks you’re in for.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 6 equates to “Decent.” It fails to reach its full potential and is a run-of-the-mill experience.