Courtesy of Universal Pictures

April 27, 2023

‘Cocaine Bear’: Exactly What it Sounds Like

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There have not been many movie trailers as of late that have excited me as much as Cocaine Bear’s did. Cocaine Bear has a simple premise: A bear who ingests cocaine goes on a wild massacre, eating anything and everything it encounters while running amok. One aspect that drew me and many others to this story is the fact that this movie is based on true events

There was, in fact, a bear that ate cocaine and was dropped into the Georgia forest by a drug smuggler in 1985. However, the movie contains  quite a bit of embellishment of details, which makes it more entertaining, since a movie about a bear eating cocaine and dying peacefully in its sleep would make for a pretty boring watch. 

The movie features several intertwining plotlines that are based around the lost cocaine and the bear, all of which I found myself invested in. The first is that of Dee Dee (Brooklyn Price) and Henry (Christian Convery), two elementary schoolers who decide to skip school and go to Chattahoochee for the day. The secondary plotline involves the drug dealers (O’Shea Jackson Jr and Alden Ehrenreich) who lost their cocaine and are searching to retrieve it. 

The cinematography and costumes, along with the 80s inspired soundtrack, give Cocaine Bear a nostalgic feel. However, the movie does fall victim at times to trying to accomplish too much. By the middle of the film, it seems there is no way the movie will end satisfyingly, due to all of the overlapping storylines The finale, however, wraps up in a way that does not feel forced. 

The cast of the movie is an expectedly star-studded ensemble that includes Ray Liotta in his final feature film as Syd, the drug lord who also searches for the missing cocaine. Although this film is no Goodfellas, it is still a worthy send-off for Liotta. Additionally, Margo Martindale stars as the park ranger, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson is the love interest who preoccupies most of her headspace. They accompany Dee Dee’s mother, who is a nurse, in the search to find her and Henry. Compared to the search for the cocaine bear, this hunt is more wholesome but still frightening. 

The scenes with Bob and the drug dealers are some of the most entertaining, as they have some of the best dialogue exchanges and are humorously suspenseful, even without the centerpiece of the bear present. In general, the movie shines when it combines the absurdity of the story with its solid cast. 

This is not a subtle movie, and it excels where the lines blur between a comedy and a thriller. The concept itself is nothing short of comical — who would not want to see a bear on cocaine? The bear goes from extreme fits of rage and terror to falling asleep after the high wears off, and every moment is intriguing and exciting. The story is filled with unexpected plot twists, which added to the suspense. 

If you are sensitive to violence and gore, then I would recommend staying clear of Cocaine Bear. There are many gruesome, violent and over-the-top deaths, and it would be potentially overbearing if it were not balanced out by the humor. The humor is not very nuanced, which is necessary in this kind of film, but it still definitely remains funny and works in the grand scheme of the movie.

Overall, I have no regrets in watching this film. This movie is substantially better than most horror movies, even though it does not market itself as one. If you take Cocaine Bear for what it is, without expecting it to have the most realistic plot or the greatest acting, then you will be entertained. I would catch this in theaters while you can, because the experience of the intoxicated bear will be greatly enhanced on the big screen with the surround audio. 

Raphael Mazhandu is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected].