Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect 2) returns to the directing chair, four years after her less than stellar Charlie’s Angels reboot. This time, it’s to tell the (I can’t believe I’m typing this) true story of Cocaine Bear – a black bear who ingests pounds of cocaine in a national forest in Georgia, sending it on a hilariously drug-fueled, murderous rampage.
I thought Cocaine Bear would just be a straight-up comedy, but instead the film is more akin to a B-Grade 80’s slasher film. There’s the usual cliche of potential victims – tourists, criminals, cops, and a reluctant hero – who are forced to put their differences aside to survive the creature’s attacks.
The large roster of actors do a fine enough job, but unfortunately there’s no real standouts. I feel the (surprisingly) star studded cast this film managed to wrangle up had more to offer, but the script is so generic that they aren’t really given much to do. The humour between characters was there in quantity but less so in quality. Most of the raunchy jokes and over use of f bombs didn’t land for me. They just came across as amateur, which does make more sense when you realise the writer – Jimmy Warden – only has one other writing credit to his name. The one highlight from the cast was the bittersweet appearance from Hollywood icon – Ray Liotta (RIP). It’s just a shame that his last performance wasn’t in a better film.
The visual comedy and gory executions of characters throughout the film’s 95 minute runtime are its strongest elements. Whenever the bear is on screen, the film delivers – the hulking beast embodies the perfect balance of absurd and terrifying. The numerous death scenes throughout the film masterfully manage to be both hilarious and disgusting. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough of our favourite apex predator for my liking. I don’t know if this was due to budget restraints of animating a fully CGI bear, but the rest of the film is brought down with multiple uninteresting plot lines and spends far too much time developing forgettable characters. Ironically, that left me feeling like a coke-addict whilst watching this film – anxiously waiting for my next fix of the titular character to appear on screen to disembowel anyone who stood between them and their nose candy.
Cocaine Bear doesn’t completely blow, but it spends far too much time on generic filler and not enough on the action/comedy horror elements it does so well. The film has just enough bear-action to warrant a watch and the gory death scenes allowed me to walk out of my screening entertained, but I was left craving more.