This month’s movie of the month is the drug-fueled romp Cocaine Bear. Directed by Elizabeth Banks, it’s about a bear that gets into some cocaine. Pretty self-explanatory. The R-rated story also weaves in a few subplots to draw in various characters to cross paths with the bear for multiple reasons. Some want to end the bear’s rampage; others just want to protect their loved ones from imminent danger.
As always, our reviews tend to have some spoilers, so read ahead at your own risk. I tried to keep them pretty minor, but you should probably come back after watching the movie yourself.
Based on a True Story… Kind of
They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but this is not one of those times. Yes, technically, Cocaine Bear is based on a “true story,” but the facts are a bit different from the movie.
The movie’s premise is fairly simple: a wild bear stumbles across some cocaine in the 80s. It gets into it (as bears want to do) and then goes on a crazed rampage while under the influence of the drug. Bloody hijinks ensue as people flee from the coked-up bear or try to snatch away the beast’s remaining stash.
While it is true a bear got into a stash of smuggled cocaine in the 80s and that the drugs were even dropped from a plane flying overhead, the rest is just the work of Hollywood. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but bears physically can’t handle that much cocaine. There was no rampage; the poor thing’s heart gave out long before it could get into any trouble.
“Cokey the Bear” was found long dead after overdosing, with no human blood or death involved. The real bear was also much smaller than the one in the movie, and just 175 pounds rather than the 500-pound monster seen on the silver screen. It was big enough to handle consuming the 40 containers (about 35 pounds worth) of cocaine it could have gotten into.
So how did the story get so twisted? Well, director Elizabeth Banks is reported to have felt so bad for the real bear she made up her own version of a revenge story.
The real bear was an unfortunate casualty in some drug smuggling gone wrong. Cocaine Bear, the movie, sets out to give the poor thing a literal fighting chance.
Obviously, this movie is not going to be suitable for general audiences. It’s about drugs, murder, and incredibly bloody carnage. Now if that’s your kind of thing, I highly recommend watching it for a good time.
Despite all the bloodshed, there is a lot to laugh about and even characters to care about. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and the writers clearly set out to give people a good time as they explore what could have actually happened.
Surprisingly Healthy Relationships
I have to say, for a movie set in the 80s about a coked out bear the relationships between characters are (mostly) incredibly healthy.
It’s easy to not pick up on that and just focus on the carnage. Once you actually start looking at how people treat each other though, a lot of them are fantastic at expressing their feelings and how the actions of others affect them.
By no means are they perfect. They still mess up from time to time but the protagonists of the movie are good people and you want to see them live. You want to see them improve their relationships even more and become closer. Even some of the drug smugglers.
It wouldn’t have been weird for all of the characters to be unlikeable and then get what’s coming to them but that’s not the way things went. At least not for everyone.
Overall the healthy relationships make you care about the characters and it makes their motivations so much more believable. Most of the people in Cocaine Bear weren’t trying to face the bear out of their own selfish desires. They were either trying to save themselves or save their loved ones. They wanted to do the right thing for the right reasons.
This, of course, doesn’t apply to everyone. There are some human antagonists that you really want to see get torn apart by the bear. Their deaths are definitely satisfying to watch and you can feel good knowing that the good guys mostly make it out alive.
So. Much. Gore
A huge part of Cocaine Bear is the blood and gore. Watching it, you get to be up close and personal with violence and injuries. From gunshot wounds to car accidents and bear maulings, there is an insane amount of blood.
Definitely not the movie to watch if you have a faint heart or hate violence. If you’re okay with almost cartoonish levels of it, you’ll have a really good time. It’s a stupid movie based on a ridiculous premise that makes it perfect for turning your brain off for a while to enjoy some senseless, no-stakes violence.
To enjoy this movie, you’ll need a bit of a twisted sense of humor. Really. If you can’t laugh over a couple of baby bears eating someone’s entrails…well, let’s just say this is most certainly not the right movie for you.
Personally, I give this movie a 4 out of 5 black bears.
It was a little much even for me at times, but it was still incredibly engrossing and very funny. I had a good time watching it and would definitely see it again.
If this movie wasn’t your thing, I promise that most of our movie reviews are much more family-friendly than Cocaine Bear. If you’re looking for something a little less intense, you can read our review of Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania here.
At the time of writing, Cocaine Bear is still in theaters but is expected to begin streaming online on Peacock after its theatrical run.
Have you seen Cocaine Bear? Let us know what you would rate it in the comments below!