Review: COCAINE BEAR A Rip Snortin’ Good Time At The Movies

Cocaine Bear
Image via Universal Pictures
On September 11, 1985, a drug smuggler flying a small Cessna over the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area was forced to dump their cargo of several gym bags of cocaine into the woodland area before the plane crashed. (The pilot didn’t have much better luck.) It was later discovered that some of the cocaine was discovered by a grizzly bear, who promptly devoured a large amount of the drug.

Such is the real world inspiration for the horror-comedy Cocaine Bear, which envisions a much more entertaining fallout from its set up than what history tells us. In this cinematic confection we have two kids playing hooky, a worried mother, some criminals trying to find the cocaine, a law enforcement officer on the trail of the crooks, a pair of ambulance attendants, an aggressively amorous park ranger and various hikers all converging on a wooded state park and on a collision course with one coked up ursine.

Jimmy Warden’s screenplay does a good job in sketching out the characters, giving us some folks we hope will survive their encounter with the cocaine bear and some we ardently hope won’t. And audiences won’t get their wish with every character, as it should be with a genre film like this. And Banks manages to stage many of those kills in ways that elicit either wincing sympathy or laughs, depending on how she has set the character up. She manages to keep things somewhat gory; maybe not continually enough to satisfy the more diehard gore hound fan (though a sequence in an ambulance should be a highlight for them), but never too much to ticket buyers who came more for the comedic promise of the film’s premise.

To be sure, overall there is not much depth to Cocaine Bear. there’s no ecological message to be found, no comment on the 1980s War on Drugs farce. This is just silly, pulpy fun and Banks manages to keep things cooking along for the film’s 95-minute runtime. And that marks it as an acceptable throwback to the kind of fun horror films of the decade that this story is set.

Cocaine Bear
Image via Universal Pictures
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About Rich Drees 7192 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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