Animal attack films are a subgenre of the horror genre. There have been many of these types of films released over the years. Jaws, Cujo, Crawl, Anaconda, and Alligator are among the most popular of these films and the ones people consider the best ones to watch. They have a rewatchability factor as well. Cocaine Bear is the latest in this genre. It does’t add anything new to the genre but it’s still a fun wild ride of a film.
After a guy in an airplane throws a bunch of bags of drugs that include packages of cocaine in them out of the plane and it lands in Tennessee and Georgias, Okeechobee National Forest. A group of people inadvertently run a fowl of a black bear that mistakenly got into the cocaine and ended up on a drug-fueled rage in the forest. These people have to do whatever they can to avoid the bear and survive at any cost. Throw in men who are looking for the bags of coke and you have a wild ride of a film.
The film has a very good cast of actors playing all of these roles. Among them are Margo Martindale, a smart-witted park ranger, and Keri Russell, a single mother, who’s a nurse, with a daughter played by Brooklyn Prince. She and her friend, played by Christian Convery, skip school and end up in the woods. Ray Liotta, in his final role before he passed away, plays a drug dealer who is looking for the coke. He sends his son Alden Ehrenreich and O’Shea Jackson Jr. to the forest to find and return the bags of coke to him. Those are just a few of the people that make up this funny cast of characters.
The movie is set in the mid-eighties in the south so throw in these two unique things and you have a couple of aspects that bring out a lot of comedy. Namely, everybody has a southern accent and most of the characters have eighties haircuts and wear clothes from that decade. They also drive cars from those years as well. The production design added a nice element to a film that was perfectly set in this wild and fun decade. I grew up in this decade so I would know about it more than most.
As far as animal attack films go this one isn’t the best but it’s definitely not the worst either. It has a tongue-in-cheek approach to this genre. It’s trying not to be too serious even though there are a lot of gory bloody scenes of the bear eating people and dismembering them. These scenes are relatively pretty funny most of the time. Two scenes that come to mind are when the bear attacks the park ranger and a trio of slackers in a cabin was done hilariously. And not to be outdone an action sequence when an ambulance arrives to help people mauled by the bear is one of the funniest things you’ll see all year. It is bat-shit crazy, to say the least. The bear develops some kind of super speed to run and chase down this ambulance that was trying to get away.
Elizabeth Banks is usually known as an actress but she has directed a few things. Name Pitch Perfect 2 in 2015 and the Charlie’s Angels reboot in 2019. This is her third film under her belt and it may be the best one. That’s not saying a lot though. She infuses a lot of eighties elements with a tried and true formula of the animal attack genre and creates a relatively funny and harmless true story, well true is stretching the truth a little. This film took that to a different level. The film was still a drug-fueled nostalgia trip that brought back memories of my youth growing up in the eighties.
Of the cast I mentioned and one I didn’t yet Margo Martindale was hilarious. She had many lines that were straight laugh out loud. Isiah Whitlock Jr. as a police detective brought his usual brand of comedy to the table. He has a deadpan style that is hard not to laugh at as well. Ray Liotta is hard to forget, as a drug dealer is good in a villain role but it’s crazy this is going to be what people remember as his last time and that’s a shame because he deserves better in that regard. This cast was pretty good considering all the factors that went into this movie.
Cocaine Bear was what it was advertised as. A hilarious film that brought the eighties vibe of animal attack films to a whole new audience. The entire cast seemed like they were having a blast as these people who were all over their heads in this wacky zany situation. The bear attack scenes, with a CGI bear I might add, we’re all. Pretty cool and mostly funny including the cabin scene and ambulance chase. The best of the cast were Martindale and Whitlock Jr. They brought some hilarity that was desperately needed in this movie. All in all, this is a fun romp through the Georgia woods that wasn’t trying to be anything more than what it was. An eighties adrenaline-fueled nostalgia-filled animal attack film. That is all I needed in the end.
3 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen