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‘Cocaine Bear’ snuffs out Hollywood’s haughtiness

‘Cocaine Bear’ snuffs out Hollywood’s haughtiness

‘Cocaine Bear’ snuffs out Hollywood’s haughtiness
March 02
14:00 2023

Audiences are kidding themselves if they expected any form of depth from “Cocaine Bear.” In reality, they all went in for the same reasons — campy gore, corny dialogue and character actress Margo Martindale.

The latest directorial project from Elizabeth Banks, “Cocaine Bear,” is good because it’s bad. The film brings a cinematic silliness casual moviegoers have long been missing.

In true B-movie fashion, “Cocaine Bear” claims to be “loosely based on a true story,” and writer Jimmy Warden’s conception could not be any looser. 

The action-packed adventure finds itself in 1985 Georgia. After a drug airdrop gone wrong, over $15 million worth of cocaine ends up scattered across the Chattahoochee National Forest. Before any humans get their paws on the powder, one figure emerges to keep the load for themselves — a 500-pound American black bear.

After consuming copious amounts of the drug, the otherwise docile creature goes on a gory rampage. The film then follows two main plot lines as characters try to navigate the woods without being subject to a grizzly fate.

In all honesty, plot specifics are the least important aspects of “Cocaine Bear.” Idiotic, senseless details scattered throughout the film aren’t meant to add substance, but rather silliness. Park Ranger Liz’s attempt at a love affair, police officer Bob’s new fancy dog or the fate of O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s fingers don’t really affect any of the main plot. These minor gags are really just there for a few cheap laughs to tide audiences over until Cocaine Bear’s next on-screen appearance.

While the non-CGI human cast may not be “Cocaine Bear”’s crown jewels, some members still stand out. Breakout star Aaron Holiday and child actor Christian Convery each deliver their own scene-stealing lines throughout their performances. Keri Russell also adds a balance to her otherwise chaotic co-stars as the film’s grounding maternal role.

On top of entertaining general audiences, it’s clear the film was also a breath of fresh air for its star-studded lineup. “Game of Thrones” alum Kristofer Hivju plays an amusing mourning tourist who just watched his fiancée be torn apart by the bear, limb from limb. “Goodfellas”’ own Ray Liotta acts as a stereotypical coke dealer, sleazy sunglasses and all. The late actor said he was proud to take part in the outrageous comedy, which would later become his final film.

“Cocaine Bear”’s masterful use of a big-name ensemble does more than just hook audiences. Whether intended or not, the film makes a long overdue commentary on the current film industry — Hollywood bigwigs are taking themselves too seriously.

Understandably, recent hits like “Banshees of Insherin” and “The Whale” show some of the best performances film has to offer, and warrant universal acclaim. However, this doesn’t mean the only films deserving of praise have to be artful and Oscar-worthy.

Unlike its recent peers, “Cocaine Bear” looks camp right in the eye and takes pride in its over-the-topness. It’s chock full of excessive gore and crappy one-liners that all fall under one nonsensical premise. To make it even better, it’s all wrapped up in under 95 minutes.

While “Cocaine Bear” may not be for faint of heart film bros, fans and critics alike seem to agree on a need for such half-baked projects. The film received a 70 percent critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes and has grossed more than $23 million at the box office since its Feb. 24 release.

Unserious cinema has been on standby for too far long. It’s about time a box office film showed success in stupidity. While a bear hopped up on ‘80s cocaine may not be the adversary Hollywood executives anticipated, it still does the job.

Samantha’s rating: 4/5

Featured Illustration by Jazmine Garcia

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Samantha Thornfelt

Samantha Thornfelt

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