By Jaykob Smith
I feel like I’m the one who’s high on cocaine because almost everyone that I talk to seems to be really enjoying the movie, “Cocaine Bear.” I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why though. After watching the film and taking some extensive notes, I have to say that this movie is objectively bad. Yes, I am saying objectively, there is no argument that could prove this movie is objectively good. If you laughed at it, great. If you are a fan of movies with extreme gore and happened to like this movie for it, also great… But it’s still bad.
“Cocaine Bear” is based on the real event of a 1985 drug plane crash where, subsequently, a bear found the stash of cocaine, overdosed, and was found dead. The movie’s events on the other hand, are very different. In the film, the plane is never shown to be crashed, instead the drugs were being thrown out of the plane so that they can be found later by the drug smugglers. Because of this, a bear finds the cocaine and goes wild, killing and dismembering numerous people on its drug-fueled rampage. Through the story we follow the perspectives of a few different main characters who all ultimately end up in the same woods as the bear is in.
I’ll start off with the things that were good about “Cocaine Bear”. First, the movie as a whole does a good job at feeling like a movie set in the 80’s. While I was born in 2001, watching the film you can see that all the technology, outfits, and set designs are modeled after that time period. Second, when paired together the characters of Dee Dee (Brooklyn Prince) and Henry (Christian Convery) were very amusing. Being two young kids going off into the woods on an adventure already has a charm to it and it is bolstered by both of the actors’ performances. They were great together on screen and had probably the best scenes when together. It’s a shame that there is only about six or seven minutes of that though. Third, again the gore of this film, for people who are fans of “Final Destination”, is something that people will enjoy. The final good thing I’ll say about the film is that Ray Liotta portrayed his character, Syd, perfectly and I wish that there was more of him on screen for what is his last performance.
Just about everything else. In all seriousness this movie doesn’t accomplish basically anything that it’s trying to do. The first scene of the movie attempts to set the tone as comedic with absurd humor. The original trailer for the film does the same thing. However the very next scene that we get to see is a Swedish couple going on a hike while discussing their upcoming wedding and future babies. The full scene ends with the titular bear brutally mauling the man’s fiance in front of him. The scene as a whole was nice to watch in the beginning due to the characters dialog and the performance of the acting. However, when it came time for the bear to arrive there weren’t any jokes. And this can be applied to the movie as a whole. Countless times the bear will maul someone, you get to see all the bloody horror, too, and it will be played as serious or that we should be frightened for them. Then there are scenes where that exact same thing will happen, but it will be played as a joke and we should laugh. All in all, the movie is a huge mixed bag that doesn’t know what it’s trying to be. Because of this you will never know when the right time to laugh is, aside from a few comical lines.
This section I’ve reserved for “Cocaine Bear”’s worst offenses, the dialog and the storyline. The movie falls into the same rut that most modern films do, being overly expository with dialog. Newer films seem to be doing this a lot lately where they tell you something rather than allowing you to figure out what the film is subtly saying. This movie in particular has zero subtlety. One example of horrendous dialog is when two drug dealers, Daveed (O’Shea Jackon Jr.) and Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich), are in a truck going to recover the lost cocaine. Up to this point we have been seeing Eddie extremely sad and we’ve been told that he is in mourning. A song starts to play that reminds him of Joany, his deceased wife. They both start talking and then Daveed says “Joany died of cancer.”… Why on earth would he ever say that, both characters should know that at this point and it would be incredibly stupid to say that to her still mourning husband. I would go on but I could fill a few pages worth of dialog like this that only serves to let the audience know things instead of being a conversation that would actually happen.
While the dialog is atrocious film wide, the storyline is easily the most incomprehensible. That is odd to say when it should really just be “shenanigans in the woods with a coked out bear.” Instead you have three main plot threads all coming together in a final face off with the bear. I can’t go over everything but it purely just doesn’t make sense and it seems like the movie director just wanted something in there to help string bear maulings together.
I wish I could go over more but you get the jist of it. I more than anyone wanted this movie to be good. I remember watching the initial trailer in November of last year and immediately sent it to my girlfriend. She wasn’t too keen on it but I was very excited for it to come out. Overall “Cocaine Bear” suffers the tragedy of being way too confused. I never knew whether the bear was going to go full on death mode or just act goofy, and neither did the scriptwriters. My overall rating is a 3 out of 10.