movie reviews
Cocaine Bear

Cocaine Bear

Universal is going for a lavish B-movie about a cocaine-addled teddy bear and André has reviewed Elizabeth Banks' splatter comedy...

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Cocaine Bear is the true story of Pablo Escobear - an American black bear who becomes a cocaine addict when he finds packages of coke scattered in the woods and mutilates everything in his path in order to pull a line. No, of course, the massacre bit itself isn't entirely true. The real bear overdosed and can be seen as a stuffed reminder of the devastating effects of drug use in Kentucky. Thankfully, the film stays far away from reality in this regard and lets Escobear go berserk on a bunch of innocent woodland visitors.

Elizabeth Banks hasn't quite found her identity as a director after the awful Pitch Perfect 2 and the hopeless Charlie's Angels remake starring Kirsten Stewart, but with the B-movie spectacular Cocaine Bear, the filmmaker actually seems to be onto something. With a title like Cocaine Bear, you get exactly what you'd expect - bloody silly humour - and it rides a bit on the same hype that the meme factory Snakes on a Plane produced in 2006, but the difference here is that Cocaine Bear actually delivers on its wackier premise to a greater extent than the tame Samuel Jackson film. Unlike, say, the Sharknado reels, there are also splatter effects here to back up the corny concept with a bit more lavish meat on the bones.

It's all pretty stupid, but that's to be expected in a playful slasher, where characters exist mostly to be ripped apart by the forest beast. There's enough guts and "gore" here to amuse the intended audience, and Banks manages to balance a large cast with a cheesy dramatic tone that mostly adds to the film's comedic effect. The story isn't meant to be taken seriously and for the most part the simple tale of cops, drug dealers and clueless tourists clashing with the cocaine monster works.

Cocaine Bear
"I love cocaine, it's my mission, because drugs are my passion!"
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Like a cocaine rush (in the experience of our editor-Mackan), there are high-energy scenes that turn the madness up to the max, like when our hairy title character goes berserk on an ambulance crew in the film's best highlight by far. Cocaine Bear isn't afraid to dispatch characters as quickly as they're introduced, but like a coke craze (according to Mackan, at least), it's not always in high gear and once the film slows down the pace, the film's many flaws such as crappy dialogue and flat characters become apparent.

Keri Russell is usually good, but is probably among the film's least interesting characters, and sadly Ray Liotta's last finished performance was a muted one, appearing here towards the film's final third to give the movie some kind of gravitas that mostly drags down its savage tone. I also find that the film fades out a bit too much towards the end instead of continuing to stomp on the gas pedal. The editing gets messy towards the final act as well, where it's noticeable that the film might have done well with fewer characters or at least offer one last bloody twist. More practical effects could also have balanced out some of the more obvious digital special effects.

In the end, though, I had quite a bit of fun with the charge-snorting predator. It's fast-paced, entertaining and delightfully slapdash, although the film could have offered more of the same. The Sam Raimi vibes are strong and the 80s music is well integrated, with Banks repeatedly managing to inject a dose of flesh-tearing madness into the viewer's arms, allowing the director to pride herself on having found a niche that she's more than happy to continue developing.

06 Gamereactor UK
6 / 10
Not a slam dunk, but despite its obvious flaws, it's still a fun slasher.
overall score
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Cocaine Bear

Cocaine Bear

MOVIE REVIEW. Written by André Lamartine

Universal is going for a lavish B-movie about a cocaine-addled teddy bear and André has reviewed Elizabeth Banks' splatter comedy...

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