From: Silver Screen
REVIEW: ‘Cocaine Bear’ adapts a true story into a gory, yet flat, comedy
Ever wondered what would happen if a 500-pound black bear ate multiple bricks of cocaine? In Elizabeth Banks’ “Cocaine Bear,” a comedy inspired by the true story of a bear who died of an overdose on cocaine in 1985, you’ll find out.
When a plane containing millions of dollars worth of cocaine crashes, passengers begin snorting and chucking cocaine out of the plane, resulting in the drug being sporadically dispersed across a national park. As indicated by the title of the film, a giant bear becomes addicted to cocaine and starts murdering hikers in the park. Two drug dealers named Howard (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) travel to the park hoping to find the stashes of cocaine and profit. Yet, their paths cross with Sari (Keri Russell) who is searching for her daughter Deirdre (Brooklynn Prince) after she skipped school to explore the woods and was captured by the bear.
The sheer brutality in the way the bear attacks her victims clearly explains the R-rating. The CGI and visual effects depict the violence in gory detail, making it easily the most impressive and convincing part of this ludicrous film.
The film seems conscious of how wild the plot is and plays into the ridiculousness of it. Anti-psychedelic and drug advertisements from the ‘80s are played immediately after the bear makes her first kill, effectively adding humor. The advertisements also establish a retro aesthetic, but this tone is lost in the film itself with the lack of attention to the costumes and color grading.
The lack of attention spans to the dialogue and arcs of the human characters as well. The central conflict driving the plot is Deirdre being captured, yet her character has no nuance and the reason for her being captured is unexplained, making it hard for the audience to care about her whereabouts throughout the film.
The title of the film already indicates the central purpose is comedy, so the audience isn’t expecting the movie to have complicated character arcs or stunning cinematography. But the only interesting aspect of the film is the fact that there’s a giant bear running around killing people while high on cocaine, and the 20 minutes of exposition coupled with the underdeveloped, caricature-like characters are not only boring but distracting from the gore and action of the film.
However, the absurdity of the plot is enough to make watching this movie somewhat enjoyable. And surprisingly enough, while the human characters are difficult to care about, the bear is easy to emotionally connect to.
Later in the film it’s revealed the bear has two cubs who are also addicted to cocaine. This subtle addition is extremely effective in not only adding to the humor of the bear’s cocaine addiction, but also giving the audience an avenue to care about the bear now that she has children she’s trying to protect from the drug dealers.
While the character arcs are predictable and shallow, the hilarious premise of the plot makes watching this worthwhile with a group of friends or a crowd.
“Cocaine Bear” was released in theaters on Feb. 24.
This article was edited by Bailey Hobbs and Nina Heller. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis, Sophia Rocha and Stella Guzik.