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'Cocaine Bear' A Review

‘Cocaine Bear’ is loosely based on true events that transpired in the mid-eighties where a black bear indulged in misplaced cartel cocaine. Director/producer Elizabeth Banks along with producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, notable for ’21 Jump Street’ and ‘The Lego Movie, were evidently good choices at adapting something with such a ridiculous premise.

There are many sequences in which ‘Cocaine Bear’ lives up to its bonkers title and those are enough reason to see it and be entertained. The film is otherwise an uneven excursion. When it’s absurd, it’s absurd, when it’s hilarious, it's hilarious, and when it’s thrilling, it’s thrilling. The issue with the film is the tonal clash of all these elements when they overlap. Humor undercuts its drama as much as drama undercuts its humor because the film does not always do a good job of blending its humorous, serious, and horrifying elements.

‘Cocaine Bear’ often feels like there were two narratives, one serious and one hilarious, duking it out. Either one separately had serious potential to form something incredible. However, the filmmakers smashed these different narratives together haphazardly never allowing either to truly flourish.

Luckily, the ensemble committed to this wild ride and helped buoy the entire experience. While the film never aggressively appealed to 80s nostalgia like say ‘Stranger Things,’ the infectious synth score as well specific cinematic choices were a nice homage to the decade.

‘Cocaine Bear’ makes for a fun and entertaining afternoon at the movies, but given the talent behind the camera and limitless potential for high octane absurdity- it leaves more to be desired.


Browse The Brown Deer Public Library for other films based on true stories.

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