Monday, May 8, 2023

Cocaine Bear (2023)

Streaming Service: Peacock
Movie Name/Year: Cocaine Bear (2023)
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Length: 1h 35min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Universal Pictures, Brownstone Productions, Lord Miller, Peacock, Studio Distribution Services (SDS), Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE)
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Writer: Jimmy Warden
Actors: Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ray Liotta, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Brooklynn Prince, Christian Convery, Margo Martindale, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Kristofer Hivju, Hannah Hoekstra, Ayoola Smart
Blurb from IMDb: An oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converge on a Georgia forest where a huge black bear goes on a murderous rampage after unintentionally ingesting cocaine.

Selina’s Point of View:
Cocaine Bear seemed like it was going to be insane and chaotic. There was definitely a lot of that, but there was also more plot than I expected.
The beginning did little to make me think there was going to be anything more to it than I initially thought. It had a bit of a story based on a little girl that wasn’t comfortable with her mom dating and a sad drug dealer. The sad drug dealer thing got old quickly, too. To be honest, I was already feeling a little disappointed.
Once it picked up, everything got more interesting.

It was brutal and the story evolved into something worth watching. Not only that, but as LOOSELY as it was based on that true story (I’d say more inspired by than based on), the bear facts used tended to be more on point. Things like: how fast they can climb trees, how to respond to a black vs a brown bear, etc. I found that more interesting than if they would have played as loose with the nature aspects as they did with the story facts.
It was interesting to see a ridiculous B-style creature feature mix with a more mainstream crime-comedy feel. I understand now why they released it to theaters.
If you do watch Cocaine Bear understand what you’re getting. It doesn’t take itself as seriously as something like Jurassic Park (1993), and so the graphics aren’t as on par. But it’s also not as ridiculously unbelievable as something like Sharknado (2013), so the script and acting is still well done.
I would watch it again.

Cat’s Point of View:
Cocaine Bear came out of left field. When my family and I first saw this trailer before an in-theater movie, we watched with jaws dropped. The premise was ludicrous - and at the same time utterly mind-blowing. Especially since it was supposedly loosely based on real-world events.
That’s right. There was a very real (if unfortunate) Cocaine Bear in Kentucky, who apparently lives on in taxidermied infamy somewhere and nicknamed “Pablo Escobear.” Of course, the real bear was male, and this fictionalized account gives a flipped gender take on the scenario - well… aside from the fact that the real bear didn’t maul anyone in a drug-induced frenzy before passing due to the cocaine it ingested.
The story that fueled this cinematic fever dream was loosely based on a portion of the narrative within the book “Bluegrass Conspiracy.” I’ve never read it, but I don’t need to. This was a highly fictionalized version that took a true portion of the tale and warped/expanded on it.
Needless to say, the moment we were able, my 19-year-old and I streamed Cocaine Bear and enjoyed (in horror, mind you) the whole rollercoaster ride it took us on. The characters were all interesting and the comedy-horror blend was on point, doling out laughs as well as edge-of-seat pulse-pounding moments like candy at Halloween. We’re talking about a story about a bear mauling its way to its next fix, here. The concept should have been clown-shoes, but it worked!
I must applaud director Elizabeth Banks (Brightburn, Pitch Perfect 2, Charlie's Angels) for taking this one out of the usual Hollywood cookie-cutter box here. Not only did Cocaine Bear successfully spin this man vs. nature story, but the way various people get caught up in the situation felt organic rather than forced. I was worried that the human element of the story would feel more cobbled together to just support the bear’s bender. I’m glad I was wrong.

The cast here was also firing on all cylinders. Ray Liotta (Field of Dreams, Shades of Blue, The Many Saints of Newark) had just finished recording his post-production work for this film before his unfortunate passing, and this was a stellar performance for him. I loved loathing his character, and he played those role types so well.
It was a pleasant surprise to see Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Untraceable, Modern Family, Ivy + Bean: Domed to Dance) and Keri Russell (Free State of Jones, Antlers, The Diplomat) in this sort of movie. Though, I couldn’t help but giggle seeing Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones, Downhill, The Witcher) because this is just the sort of quirky project I would expect from him. Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures, Running Wild, Solo: A Star Wars Story) and O'Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton, Den of Thieves, Obi-Wan Kenobi) were the glue that held the core of the story together where family, drugs, and forest met in the middle. Even the child actors really held their own.
I’ve also got to say that the production team did a pretty damn good job on that bear. There were a few points that I looked at it a little cross-eyed, but generally, I would have believed that somehow there was a real bear romping around on the screen. A+ for that successful rendition.
If you haven’t seen Cocaine Bear yet and enjoy the horror-comedy genre blend, my recommendation is to watch this one as soon as you can. You might even find you’ll want to more than once.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 67%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 71%
Metascore – 54%
Metacritic User Score – 5.3
IMDB Score –6.0/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 4.5/5
P.S. Some scenes during the credits and sounds at the end of the credits.
Movie Trailer:

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