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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Don Reviews "Cocaine Bear"

The year: 1980. The place: Wyoming. I am riding on the back of the motorcycle with my Uncle Willie who pulls out a can of chewing tobacco, starts to use it, and offers some to me. I did not know how to properly use it, so I took a big pinch and swallowed like it was a handful of popcorn. As a result, I was sick as a dog for the rest of the day reminiscent of a similar scene used in The Sandlot. Given this, let’s talk about Cocaine Bear.

This is based on true events and is directed by Elizabeth Banks with a cast that includes O’Shea Jackson Jr., Keri Russell, Ray Liotta (in his final completed role), Margo Martindale, and Isiah Whitlock Jr. The film is “inspired” from true events. In this case, the year is 1985 and the place is in a national park in Georgia where a black bear that ends up being dubbed “Pablo Eskobear” finds a load of cocaine dropped from a plane by smugglers. This is where the factual part ends and the “entertainment” part of the story begins as the bear goes on a rampage against both the locals and the tourists in the park.

This film is “interesting” to say the least. Margo Martindale is one of my personal favorites, and it was interesting to see her in this kind of role, especially given the directions her character takes. Overall, the cast really seems to be enjoying themselves here, especially O’Shea Jackson, Jr. in this crazy ride that runs just over ninety minutes, and for a film like this that is about right. The soundtrack also works well within the script itself with some classics being dropped in at the right time.

However, my issues here do lie within the script itself. Given the events of the story Cocaine Bear is “based” on, there is way too much indulgence on the part of writer Jimmy Warden that may need to have been clarified within the film itself with its gore and violence. This really got to me in a way that last year’s Beast did with the inaccurate way it portrays the “lead animal” and gives so much of a bad rap to these animals which I feel is the reason so many things actually happen to them in real life.

Within all of the gore, there is actually some dark comedy here that gave it a bit of enjoyment for me. Seeing Banks stretch herself as a director after her attempt at a Charlie’s Angels reboot was good for me in a film that is simply one where you need to leave your brain at the door. The last half is really where it picks up steam in a way that I can only describe as The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams meets Jaws, which keeps it just this sides of an homage to the Faces of Death movies from years ago. Overall, I did like Cocaine Bear and will recommend it as watching at home on a streaming service, but if you see it please do not complain that you were offended by the gore and subject matter if you have ready this review; I have warned you.

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