What to Watch This Weekend: Cocaine Bear

Cocaine Bear is the story of an apex predator on a rampage. When Andrew C. Thornton II (Matthew Rhys) discovers his plane is too heavy, he does what any drug-smuggler would do: dump the load. As the flight crosses over the forests of Georgia, several duffel bags of cocaine rain down. Some of these drugs wind up directly in the nose of a very curious, huge black bear. High on life, the bear then crosses paths with a multitude of people in the state park it calls home. These include a pair of kids, a hapless ranger, a naturalist, the intended recipients of the cocaine, and the cop determined to bring them down.

What works in Cocaine Bear is the shocking gross-out humor and going all-in on a ridiculous premise. Director Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect 2, Charlie’s Angels) holds nothing back as she fictionalizes an odd occurrence and turns it into a tale of dark comedy and horror. While one could probably guess or imagine the types of things that might happen in an R-rated movie titled Cocaine Bear, Banks finds ways to shock and surprise. This is the type of experience where patrons will audibly react—a mixture of laughter and approving groans. And Banks has wisely selected an excellent cast willing to go along for the silly ride. Standouts include O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) as the drug-dealing audience surrogate who plays it straight; and Christian Convery (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project) as the comic-relief kids who avoid typical tropes of young ones in peril.

Audiences who get squeamish about violence as a form of entertainment may not enjoy Cocaine Bear as much as others. Banks essentially turns her characters into cartoons and lets them loose. The result is gore. People should be aware that Cocaine Bear contains some very disgusting (yet absurd) sequences played for laughs. It’s a particular comedic style that without question will not appeal to everyone.  

Cocaine Bear delivers on its premise. It’s a niche brand of entertainment, and Banks puts an impressive amount of effort into making the best possible product within the genre. Strongly recommended, but only for those individuals who understand what Cocaine Bear is dealing.

Recommended if you Enjoyed: Snakes on a Plane, Deadpool

Cocaine Bear arrives in theaters on Friday, February 24th.

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