Prepare for a wild ride, as the newest addition to the “animals behaving badly” subgenre, Cocaine Bear, hits theaters . The movie’s premise is as crazy as it sounds, featuring an apex predator high on cocaine and out of its mind. But don’t let the hype fool you. This film falls short of expectations and may not even be worth watching, even if you’re under the influence.
Inspired by real events that occurred in 1985, the true story of the cocaine bear involved a Black American bear weighing 175 pounds. A drug smuggler who was also a police officer threw several duffle bags of cocaine from a plane, with one landing in the bear’s territory. The bear was found dead three months later, with nearly four grams of cocaine in its bloodstream and its stomach “packed to the brim” with the drug. The bear was stuffed and displayed at the Kentucky Fun Mall, earning the moniker “cocaine bear” in 2015.
However, the filmmakers took creative liberties with the story, presenting a bear with a lot more fun in store. The movie begins with a drug dealer disco-dancing on a plane over the forests of Chattahoochee, Georgia, throwing red duffle bags out the emergency door. The dealer meets a similar inglorious end as his real-life counterpart, falling unconscious after banging his head and tumbling out of the plane.
Things escalate quickly when an amorous pair of hikers encounter the drug-fueled bear. The CGI beast, coked up to its eyeballs, mauls the pair and soon sets its sights on a group of characters descending on Blood Mountain to retrieve the drugs. The cast includes an arch-drug dealer, played by the late Ray Liotta, and his wimpy son with a penchant for plain pasta, played by Alden Ehrenreich. Other characters include a police detective, played by Isiah Whitlock Jr., a park ranger, a concerned mother, and a gang of hoodlums.
As the events unfold, the film shifts from comic to disturbing, with intestines exposed and heads rolling. However, the movie fails to deliver on its promise of humor, with only a handful of knowing winks and nods to ’80s pop culture. The script largely falls flat, with a lack of zip for a movie about a stimulant.
In the end, Cocaine Bear feels like a setup for online jokes and memes, with a buzzkill of a movie that doesn’t quite deliver on its potential. While the trailer offers some promising moments, the rest of the film falls short of expectations. Proceed with caution when purchasing a ticket to this wild ride.