Cocaine Bear ODs on its own violent rush


photo or infographic by Universal Pictures

BLACK BEAR WHITE POWDER. “Cocaine Bear” follows a unique cast trying to survive a bear’s coked-up rampage.

Oftentimes, the title of a movie serves to convey themes the piece of cinema hopes to explore in a way that makes the watcher really think about the nature of the human experience. Then there’s “Cocaine Bear.” The newest work of director Elizabeth Banks promises a gore-filled and darkly humorous journey that, while never boring, can get lost in the oceans of blood it brings to the screen. 

Following a misfit group of drug dealers, first responders, two children and more as they reckon with the titular cocaine-fueled black bear, “Cocaine Bear” includes a star studded cast including Ray Liotta, Keri Russell  and O’Shea Jackson Jr. From the very beginning of the film, “Cocaine Bear” embraces the retch-worthy gore with over-the-top and uncensored violence. Chewed-off legs, bloody attacks and a few too many entrails decorate the silver screen, and while the effects are incredibly realistic, it can be too much for some viewers not expecting the level of violence “Cocaine Bear” contains. This is one pitfall that this movie cannot avoid.

Frequently the writing suffers at the expense of a cheap kill and while the movie occasionally manages to catch itself with an unexpectedly witty joke, it cannot help but put plot and characters with depth on the sidelines. (Side note: though the movie poster advertises that “Cocaine Bear” is a “true story,” the actual story of the renowned cocaine bear is that the bear quickly overdosed on the drug and died without causing any bloodshed. A victim of human negligence rather than a coked-up killer.)

It doesn’t look like Pablo Eskobear is taking home the Oscar this year.

— Jason Clark

For those seeking nothing more than unadulterated bear violence, “Cocaine Bear” is the Holy Grail. For everyone else, “Cocaine Bear” can be a mixed bag and, depending on the viewer’s tolerance for gore, a gag-fest. It doesn’t look like Pablo Eskobear is taking home the Oscar this year.