“An oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converge on a Georgia forest where a huge black bear goes on a murderous rampage after unintentionally ingesting cocaine.”

Director: Elizabeth Banks
Writer: Jimmy Warden
Staring: Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ray Liotta, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Kristofer Hivju, Tyler Ferguson
Release Date: February 24, 2023

Cocaine Bear (2023) is not meant for me. It is just not my type of movie. This is strictly the Jonathan Stanko perspective, but I did not find Cocaine Bear funny, or really entertaining in the slightest. Perhaps it was negligence on my part to expect the movie to at least be passable with all the buzz surrounding it. Cocaine Bear is a serious of skits tossed together with a coked out CGI bear acting as super glue. The movie is not lacking for star power as there are many recognizable actors who take part in this adventure, but no amount of famous people can save this viewing experience from being a massive dud.

It is a movie about a killer bear coked out on cocaine. It is pretty simple in the broad sense. But there are a few steps that writer Jimmy Warden takes to add some depth.

Sari (Keri Russell) is a single mom working a medical job and she has to go on a quest to save her daughter Dee Dee (Brooklyn Prince) and her friend Henry (Christian Convery). Sari begins her rescue wandering through the woods with Ranger Liz (Margo Martindale), and eventually she runs into Syd White (Ray Liotta). Syd is a drug lord, the runner of the cocaine. He has in his employ depressed Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) and the muscle man Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), each of whom have thier own quirks. This “bad guys” are attempted not to get caught by the police, but strange detective Bob Springs (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) is on the trail.

So all of that is happening while a killer bear is on the loose and wreaking havoc wherever it goes.

Angry Cocaine Bear

I did not find Cocaine Bear funny one bit. Comedy is the most subjective form of entertainment, and the style of comedy in this romp is not my favorite laugh prescription. None of the comedy is funny word play or clever. The comedy is all absurdism, over-the-top and slo-motion. I don’t mind absurdism when it comes to action. Hell, I loved RRR (2022). But in comedy I like this nailed down with crisp timing and clever wordplay, and there is none of that in Cocaine Bear.

I do have one suggestion to director Elizabeth Banks and Warden. They are for sure looking for my advice now after not being kind. I have their attention.

You had Isiah Whitlock Jr. on set. He is most known for his work as State Senator R. Clayton ‘Clay’ Davis in HBO’s The Wire. In that show he is known for the amount of times he says “shitttttttt”. Are you telling me that you couldn’t work in one of those elongated “shitttttt” when he first sees the bear?

Whitlock is one of many recognizable faces in this movie. Keri Russell, who is the star of the new Netflix show The Diplomat, plays a lead role alongside Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and the one and only Ray Liotta. Liotta died during the post production of Cocaine Bear. It makes me said that this movie is his final completed role. He is playing a drug runner, which makes sense for countless characters he played, but this movie is more of a joke than it is a fantastic product. Liotta was still picking good projects to be in; he was in Black Bird on ApppleTV, Hanna on Amazon Prime, and then a pair of mob movies in 2021, The Many Saints Of Newark and No Sudden Move. Gonna his his terrifying face.

Ray Liotta as Syd White

We need to stop Elizabeth Banks. She needs to be stopped. Banks has directed three feature length films, and none of them have been good. Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) was a massive step down from the original. Charlie’s Angels (2019) had minimal impact on the world and Kristen Stewart was the only thing worth remembering. Now we have Cocaine Bear, which is maybe worse than Charlie’s Angels? It’s possible?

The last thing Elizabeth Banks was a part of that I enjoyed was Brightburn (2019). The dark twist on a superhero movie isn’t earth shattering, but the premise is strong and I still can picture the visual of the kids eyes. Banks needs a career pick me up.

Despite my personal animosity towards Cocaine Bear, the movie was a hit. It had a budget of 35 millions dollars, and according to IMDB it made 87 millions dollars world wide while in theaters. It had an opening weekend of 23 millions dollars. Cocaine Bear was the talk of the Internet when it was released, and the majority of society liked it. I am not a fan of Rotten Tomatoes, but it is the public consensus, and currently it is sitting at 67%.

Shake my head.

I wish that more folks watched the Peacock Original documentary about the true Cocaine Bear story. Cocaine Bear: The True Story (2023) is a comedic stylized documentary that has real sit down interviews with individuals who were part of the investigation surrounding the real cocaine bear. The documentary is made in the same style as Netflix’s The Movies That Made Us; quirky, dorky and filled with truth but strangely twisted. Nothing about the story the documentary tells is factually incorrect, but the cast of characters make it seem like a Drunk History. It was not my favorite documentary by any means, but it made me more interested in the truth about what happened in the woods and to the bear.

Cocaine Bear is not my cup of tea. It is not made for people like me. It makes me upset that a lot of people find this movie entertaining and fun. I am not one to tell anyone that they are wrong, but I can say that I am disappointed. If you to click on a overdosed killer black bear, Cocaine Bear is streaming on Peacock.


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