FILM REVIEW: Cocaine Bear
The award for 'Best Film Title of the Year' goes to Cocaine Bear, in which a bear ingests heaps of cocaine and goes on a drug-fuelled rampage through a national forest. Unbelievably based on true events, the film certainly provides what its title promises, but does it live up to its potential?
The film takes a while to get going, introducing a varied cast of characters, including a couple of park rangers, a pair of drug dealers, and a mother looking for her child, all of whom will stumble across the paranoid grizzly’s path at some point. While you are never made to care too much about the human characters, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Aaron Holliday are standouts as adversaries forced to go on this adventure together. But ultimately, and appropriately, it is the coke-sniffing CGI bear that steals the show. The special effects on the titular beast are never totally convincing, expected given the B-movie quality of this film, but they are rendered well enough to provide the simple thrill of watching a bear do a line off a mauled dead body.
There is a big contrast between the gory-but-not-too-gory, drug-addled bear attack scenes, and the quaint, what could be described as 'indie', comedic sensibilities of the rest of the film. Some of this dialogue feels like it’s from a Wes Anderson film, fitting of a subtler comedy, but not necessarily what audiences want from a film called Cocaine Bear. Delivering a couple of belly laughs, thanks to the antics of a coked-up bear that only cinema could bring to life, but light chuckles for the most part, it feels as though audiences who enjoy the quaint comedy won’t enjoy the coked-up bear, and audiences who enjoy the coked-up bear won’t enjoy the quaint comedy.
At a merciful runtime of 95 minutes, in contrast to the 2-hour+ runtime of most films nowadays, Cocaine Bear still feels longer than its length. Once the drug-addled grizzly antics begin, the film remains a consistent level of entertaining throughout, never ramping up the craziness beyond its basic premise. Humans wander through the woods, stumble onto the path of the cocaine bear, violence ensues: it never gets more creative than that.
Amusing but not hilarious, Cocaine Bear reaches nowhere near the potential of its crazy title. While it delivers the bear necessities of a bear on cocaine, which will probably be just enough for some people, this film should have been more fun.